A multi-disciplined study into the safety of farm insecticide endosulfan commissioned by the Supreme Court, in its interim report, has concluded that the chemical’s adverse impact is limited to Kerala and Karnataka only.
The report doesn't recommend a complete ban on endosulfan, although the government in April this year committed to phase out the insecticide at the UN-backed Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.The government will present its stand on Friday before the apex court on production and use of the chemical. However, a blanket ban by the Supreme Court on manufacturing endosulfan is in effect.
The government may tell the court about the commitment it made at the UN forum. But India can use an 'exception' provision, under which it can continue using the chemical on specific crops until a safer, cost-effective option is found.
The joint committee of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Agriculture Commissioner's Committee has recommended export of the pesticide to utilise existing stocks.
The committee stated that over 1.9 lakh of technical and 8 lakh litres of formulation of endosulfan are currently available. The stock has a shelf-life of two years.
“If export or use of endosulfan is not allowed in India, it may be more difficult to dispose off existing stocks. It will also pose environmental hazards,” the committee stated.
It further claimed that endosulfan had a negative impact on health in parts of Kerala and Karnataka due to unscientific use. Although other pesticides are registered and available, they are costly and toxic to pollinators and honeybees, the report stated. It also added that other pesticides needed more care during handling and use.
The study was conducted following an SC order on PIL filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India through advocate Deepak Prakash, seeking a ban on endosulfan.