Table of Contents
TH | Prelims + Mains | GS3 > Environmental Pollution & Degradation > Persistent Organic Pollutants
- Context: Spraying of Endosulfan on cashew plantations in Kasaragod, Kerala has caused disorders in many.
What is Endosulfan?
- Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide — a Persistent Organic Pollutant.
- It is primarily used as an insecticide in agriculture & it is also used as a wood preservative.
Ban on Endosulfan
- India was one of the biggest producers & consumers of endosulfan.
- After the toxicity of the pesticide came into limelight in 2001 in Kasargod District, Kerala banned it.
- In 2011, SC banned the production, distribution & use of endosulfan in India.
- SC also directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 500 crores as compensation to over 5,000 victims.
- Globally, the use of endosulfan is banned under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
- Under pressure from pesticide firms, India sought remission on the ban for 10 years.
- India has agreed to phase out the use of endosulfan by 2017.
Hazardous Effects of Endosulfan
- It is highly toxic & has a large potential for bioaccumulation (substance does not leave the body).
- It has hazardous effects on human genetic & endocrine systems.
- Endocrine disruptor: enhances the effect of estrogens causing reproductive & developmental damage in both animals & humans.
- Delayed reproductive development
- Late sexual maturity
- Neurotoxic: endosulfan destroys the integrity of the nerve cells.
Pesticide Regulatory Regime in India
- India currently has a registered list of 295 pesticides & 746 approved formulations.
- These pesticides are registered by the Registration Committee (RC).
- The Central Insecticides Board (CIB) acts as an advisory body.
- The two regulatory bodies are governed by the Insecticides Act, 1968 & the Insecticides Rules, 1971.
- The Act & Rules intend to “regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution & use of insecticides with a view to prevent risk to human beings or animals”.
- Since its inception, the CIBRC (as they are together called) registers pesticides upon receiving applications along with efficacy, toxicity, & safety data from the company.
- The Ministry of Agriculture has the authority to cancel registrations & allow continued use or in some cases even ban the pesticides upon the recommendation of the RC.
There is a near-total collapse of pesticide regulation mechanism in India
2020 Notification on Draft ban order
- In May 2020, a notification consisting of a draft ban order was released by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, proposing a ban on the manufacture, sales, & imports of 27 pesticides in India.
- Several are WHO Class I pesticides (‘extremely hazardous’ & ‘highly hazardous’), some are classified as probable human carcinogens, some documented for their toxicity on bees, fish, earthworms, etc.
- Several are implicated in fatal pesticide poisonings whether it is occupational, or accidental.
- 24 of the 27 pesticides are banned in other countries.
- Many of these have been part of 2015 Anupam Verma Committee reviewed 66 “bannable” pesticides.
- At the behest of the industry, the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals cited Covid-19 pandemic situation as an excuse in proceeding with the draft ban order.
Notable pesticides in the list of 27 proposed-to-be-banned pesticides
- Carcinogenic: Oxyflourfen, Pendimethalin (causes Thyroid follicular cell adenoma)
- Endocrine disruptor: Dicofol, Carbofuran, Oxyflourfen
- Eco-toxic: Carbofuran, Monocrotophos, Carbofuran, Oxyflourfen
Deemed to be Registered Pesticides or DRPs
- DRPs are pesticides that were in use before the Insecticides Act of 1968 & could be used on the assumption that they would be registered once the mandatory data on efficacy & toxicity is generated.
- There are at least 51 such DRPs.
- Six of these have been withdrawn, eight have been banned & five are to be phased out by the end of 2020.
- The list of DRPs is not readily available on any government website (lack of transparency).
- Importantly, 17 of the 27 proposed-to-be-banned pesticides are DRPs.
- These biosafety (safety to human health & environment) of these DRPs was never assessed.
- Bio-safety data submitted & review committee reports are shrouded in secrecy.
- They have been turned down even under RTI.
- They all are being considered registered, irrespective of the data submitted.
- No other nation is known to be following such an arbitrary, risky, & unscientific regulatory practice.
- Many of the DRPs have been banned in various countries, even decades ago.