Endosulfan is an off-patent organochlorine insecticide and acaricide that is being phased out .. This inspired protests, and the pesticide was banned in Kerala as early as , following a report by the National Institute of Occupational Health. British photographer Beatriz Lopez and Peter Caton visit Kasargod district in north Kerala, whose residents have been plagued by the spraying. The nodal medical officer of Kasargod district, who played a key role in Kerala’s campaign against the pesticide endosulfan, refuses to answer.
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The numbers of people affected by nearly 20 years of aerial spray of Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide, in the cashew ednosulfan in Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala is increasing.
While the focus earlier was on Padre village, the health impacts are evident in people of nearly 11 panchayats in the district.
Tracking decades-long endosulfan tragedy in Kerala
Victims endosulfab are suffering from congenital deformities, physical disabilities, mental retardation and gynecological problems. The same health impacts are now being seen endosuflan the neighboring Dakshin Kanada district in Karnataka as well.
Here, too, the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation aerially sprayed endosulfan over the cashew plantations for over 20 years. As India prepares to go to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva in April, there are demands from states to ban the pesticide in the country and globally. India is one of the countries opposing the global ban, thanks to a very strong pesticide lobby in the country.
The company perhaps understood that it was time for a pesticide like endosulfan to phase sndosulfan. They are shedding crocodile tears for the farmers who will now fall in the trap of expensive chemical pesticides, they are completely ignoring the non chemical alternatives that are available in India and being successfully practiced in states like Andhra Pradesh non pesticide stoeyparts of Punjab and Maharashtra zero budget farming and Sikkim organic farming.
These alternatives have not only brought farmers out of the debt trap they have also preserved the ecology and brought stogy the pollinators.
The Pesticide Manufacturers Association of India, from Decemberbegan vehement lobbying to assure that endosulfan was not banned- but it received a body blow after Karnataka banned endosulfan in the state.
INSIDE STORY: How endosulfan poisoned Kasargod – News
In the past the pesticide manufacturers have tried all possible means to vilify organizations and people who have researched, written about or spoken against endosulfan. Below is a detailed chronology of CSE’s campaign against endosulfan and the tactics the pesticides industries used to suppress information, distort truth and discredit the whistle blowers.
How it all began: Aroundthe Kerala agriculture department began planting cashew trees on the hills around Padre village in Kasaragod district.
Trial spraying of endosulfan began in From PCK started regular spraying of Endosulfan two to three times a year. The Perla Division of Kasaragod Plantation has the Padre Village Enmakaje Panchayat which has remained the center point of endosulfan controversies for more than two decades now.
Endoshlfan concern related to the health and environmental impacts of pesticides, including endosulfan is not new. The Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Co-operation, Government of India constituted a high power committee in under the chairmanship of Dr. Banerji, Ex-Plant Protection Adviser to the government of India, to review whether some pesticides, including endosulfan should be continued to be used in India. Though the committee recommended the continued use of sory in the country it specified that endosulfan should not be used near water-bodies as it would pollute the water body and moreover endosulfan is known to be highly toxic to fishes and that this should be put as a condition while issuing certificate of registration.
Inthe Central Insecticides Board appointed an expert committee envosulfan the chairmanship of Dr. R B Singh to review the continued use of some pesticides including endosulfan. The committee also insisted that labeling should be made mandatory in bold letters to avoid use of endosulfan near water-bodies. Kedala reports of health impacts kerxla the ongoing aerial spraying of endosulfan on villagers ekrala Padre village began trickling in towards the end of xtory.
All these were alleged to be due to the aerial spraying of Endosulfan. From onwards social groups became active in the district highlighting the plight of the people in Padre village.
But with every advancing year, more and more health problems, were reported from areas surrounding the plantations of Kasaragod, Cheemeni and Rajapuram in Kasaragod district. Government started taking note after The results were mixed.
Few studies acknowledged that ecological and health hazards in Padre village were due to endosulfan poisoning, few rejected the cause and effect relationship and some other committees remained neutral demanding more studies.
But all studies recommended banning of aerial spray of endosulfan in the area, accepted the evident lapses in precautionary measures followed by the PCK and acknowledged the fact that there were indeed a large number of people health endosullfan.
CSE’s fight to get justice for the victims: Civil society groups from Kerala approach the Centre for Science and Environment CSE in late to conduct study in Padre village and determine the impact on health caused due to aerial spraying of endosulfan in the plantation area. And CSE agreed to do so as a part of its community support work. CSE releases its pesticide monitoring study report on Kasaragod.
They included water, soil, human blood and milk and animals. They were tested for presence of Endosulfan to determine the environment and health impacts. High amount of endosulfan residues were found, in most of the samples.
This report documented the health issues in the area. A large number of people of all ages in the village had been, for years, suffering from horrendous diseases. This was ordered by the state in response to the public outcry endoaulfan aerial spraying of endosulfan. The committee was chaired by Dr A Achyuthan. February 28th — Deadline for the submission of preliminary report by the committee constituted by the Kerala Agriculture University KAU.
The committee was to conduct a study on ‘Environmental effects of aerial spraying on cashew plantations in Kasaragod’. This was in response to a letter written by Endosulfan Spray Protest Action Committee ESPAC in January demanding a clarification on the recommendation of endosulfan and withdrawing the certification of the pesticide.
KAU was supposed to make their preliminary report on the basis of visits to the village on February 19th 50 days after the last spray. Subsequent reports were to be filed after visits in August and a brainstorming session on the use of endosulfan. Preliminary reports on 15 water and soil samples showed that though no endosulfan residues were detected in water, residues were high in soil inside the plantation and low in soil from adjoining areas. The KAU team recommended an immediate stop on aerial spraying and recommended need based application of insecticide.
The second study also recommended a stop of aerial spraying. This report accepted unusual human health problem in Padre village but did not establish a cause-effect relationship between endosulfan and the health problems.
The brainstorming session concluded that aerial spraying in the state be stopped since safety measures could not be followed, recommended in depth health studies along with studies on water pollution, heavy metal contamination and natural radioactivity.
T he report concluded that there was no conclusive evidence to fix endosulfan as the cause of the problem. ESPAC contested this report. September Stkry 8th The director of National Research Centre for Cashew, Puttur writes to the Directorates of Cashew nut and Cocoa Development across the country to refrain from recommending endosulfan in the plantations.
The decision was taken as the best possible alternative to limit exposure to endosulfan. The director however said that he neither supported nor contradicted endosulfan’s suspected role in the abnormalities reported from Padre village. However, some residue of Endosulfan was detected in soil 0. A three member team from the National Institute of Occupational Health is set up. The report was released endosulfn two parts on January and July, See January August The keral revealed that proportion of childless couples was three times higher in Padre village Enmakaje Panchayat that other areas in and around the plantations.
High rates of locomotor disability and mental retardation were found in the Enmakaje panchayat as compared to the rate in Kerala according to a state level household health survey conducted by KSSP in The environmental impact was higher in Padre village.
The study concluded that there was no absolute and final proof of enodsulfan impact of endosulfan on health or ecology but there was sufficient reason to suspect it as the most likely contributing cause. This was in response to public outcry and media endosulfab regarding health hazards and pollution caused by spraying of endosulfan in cashew plantations owned by PCK. The white paper responded by stating that though no studies were conducted on human reproductive systems, studies on animal showed that endosulfan had an impact on the reproductive system.
ESPAC stated that endosulfan was acutely toxic to honey bees as was seen with the deaths of bees in the villages over the years. The paper also claims that scientists working in the labs where the tests were done revealed that the labs were not well equipped to do proper testing and had conducted the study using expired standards. The committee did not collect samples instead examined data collected by other agencies and recorded written and oral depositions from concerned authorities.
February 23rd The committee suggested that though there is no direct evidence to attribute health problems to endosulfan, there was no evidence to completely deny it.
This was because other pollutants like automobile and industries were absent and aerial spraying was the only activity. The committee concluded that undulating nature of land and presence of large number of water bodies and human habitation in and near the plantations made the area unsuitable for aerial spraying of pesticides and the protocol for aerial spraying was not followed by PCK.
The study pointed out that use of same pesticide for 20 years was against the recommended practice of rotating pesticides. The committee recommended banning of aerial spraying of pesticides in all cashew plantations of PCK in Kasaragod District and use of endosulfan should be frozen stoty 5 years in these plantations.
Further, plantations in the Perla Division which included Enmakaje panchayat should observe five years of pesticide holiday. The report concluded that there was a high prevalence of congenital malformations in exposed groups, low IQ, Scholastic endosu,fan, learning disability, early menarche in girls and delayed puberty in boys.
The second part of the sndosulfan was released in July The first part, a dossier, was released in October The report concluded that presence of unusual health problems, studies confirming the biological health effects of endosulfan and finally absence of such diseases in places away from the PCK keralx, confirmed that the hypothesis of endosulfan being the cause of the health problems could in fact be true. Thanal based its results on concluded studies and survey done by itself to analyse the health impacts.
The survey by Thanal was on various types of disorders endoeulfan in the district and the number of people suffering from these diseases. Government of Kerala issues orders on continued enxosulfan of aerial spray of endosulfan on all crops in the state see August 25,five year pesticide holiday for Perla division and only ground based spraying manual spraying to be undertaken by PCK in the cashew plantation.
This was in background of the Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India PMFAI moving the Kerala High Court seeking to quash the state government order of August 25, to suspend the use of endosulfan in the state and the High Court bench deciding that the government should endosuulfan cognizance of the Achuthan committee report and take a decision based on section 27 of the Insecticides Act.
According to Sec 27 1: If, on receipt of a report, the Central Government or the State Government is of opinion that the use of any kfrala is likely to involve such risk to human beings or animals as to render it expedient or necessary to take immediate action then that Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the sale, distribution or use of the insecticide or batch, in such area, to such extent and for such period not exceeding sixty days as may be specified in the notification pending investigation into the matter.
The inter ministerial committee seeks the view of the Insecticides Registration Committee under the Insecticides Act The Dubey committee report was released in March See April 1st July 15th NIOH report finds higher keraka of neurobehavioural disorder and congenital malformations in females and abnormalities in male reproductive system in Enmakaje panchayat as compared to control group in Meenja panchayat. The study concluded that the health problems in the Enmakaje panchayat was due to the high and continued exposure to endosulfan through various environmental media such as food, water, soil and air.
It also added that there was a close similarity between the spectrum of health effects observed in the study population and those described in animal experiments. Industry’s Nemesis ; International journal vindicates endosulfan study August endosulfaan The Kerala High court bans the complete use of the endosulfan in the state pending kerzla decision from OP Endosulgan Committee. The division bench, banned the pesticide and made it clear that it cannot be used in any of its formulations or under any of its brand names.
Kerala HC bans endosulfan, final decision awaited September 4th