Shetkari Sanghatana founder-president Sharad Joshi has said that Kerala’s fears on pesticide Endosulfan is baseless and a ban on its use will mean fewer farmers going for cultivation of pulses.
A final decision on Endosulfan is likely at the Stockholm Convention scheduled next month. “While the Centre is firm on its decision of not banning the pesticide, the Kerala government is trying to sabotage this,” Joshi said, adding that the Centre should ensure that no other state followed Kerala’s stand.
He said Endosulfan was earlier being manufactured by European companies, but Indian companies have started manufacturing it while the European companies began production of its costlier alternatives. “By banning Endosulfan, the EU wants to push its costlier products in India, which would be a heavy burden on farmers.”
Endosulfan has been blamed for incidents of congenital abnormalities, cancer and so on, which is why Kerala issued the notification. Joshi countered the claims, citing a medical study that said the abnormalities and deformities had been a result of continuous in-breeding among certain tribes. He said the Centre had formed four committees under the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Environment and an AIIMS doctor and all of them had recommended the use of Endosulfan.
Joshi said India had been using this pesticide since 1971 and now manufactured around 12 million litres of Endosulfan a year, worth Rs. 4,500 crore. This amounted to 70 per cent of Endosulfan production in the world and India even exports it to South America. In India, the state had the highest use of the pesticide at 22-23 per cent followed by Madhya Pradesh (20-22 per cent), Gujarat (25-26 per cent) and Punjab (12-13 per cent). “Strangely, Kerala, which uses 0.8 per cent of Endosulfan, has issued a notification that renders sale of pesticides illegal, unless supported by a prescription from an appropriate agricultural officer.”
Asked about alternatives for Endosulfan, he said, “Indoxacarb, Imidacloprid and Acetamiprid are three alternatives. However, Ensdosulfan is used widely because, unlike its alternatives, it goes soft on pollinators. Also, it is four times cheaper; Endosulfan is Rs 250-260/litre as against the alternatives that range between Rs 900-3,000/litre.”