India calls for consensus-based decision on endosulfan

India calls for consensus-based decision on endosulfan

During the ongoing fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants here, a senior Environment Ministry official intervened twice to drive home the message that India wants to know the scientific and technical data underlying the recommendation by the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to include endosulfan in Annex A.

Several other developing nations have also called for "exceptions" and unimpeded access to alternatives in the event endosulfan is included in Annex A list of chemicals by the POPRC.

Even as Kerala Chief Minister V S Achutahananandan raised the political heat by calling for the immediate ban of endosulfan, the Centre adopted a cautious position that all aspects relating to this deadly pesticide must be properly examined and decided through consensus.

Chemicals listed in Annex A are banned for production and use due to the threat they pose to living beings, particularly environment. In its review meeting last year, POPRC included endosulfan in Annex A.

India said a decision on endosulfan must be based on "consensus" as per the practise in all multilateral meetings.

In the face of concerted lobbying by a group of industrialised countries in Europe who are calling for a vote to decide the proposed ban on endosulfan, India along with several developing countries said there should be no departure from "consensus" decision-making process, sources said.

Further, several developing countries in Asia and Africa pressed for more information on "alternatives" to endosulfan if it is included in the Annex A.Along with India, Indonesia and Uganda among others demanded financial and technical assistance, especially unimpeded access to the latest technology for producing other alternatives.

Given the differences between the industrialised countries on one side who want the ban of production and use of endosulfan, and developing countries who are demanding technical and financial assistance as well as transfer of technology during the phase-out period, the COP5 has constituted a contact group to examine all the issues and suggest its recommendations.

"There is a sharp division on endosulfan within and outside India," said Barun Mitra, a non-governmental participant.

He said while Kerala is opposed to the use of this pesticide, cotton producing states - Gujarat, Maharastra, and Andhra Pradesh - want to continue with endosulfan.
A chemical can be listed in the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant when it shows that it persists in the environment, bioaccumulates in organisms (increases in concentration up the food chain), travels through environment over long distances from the region of its release.

India, China, Israel, Brazil and South Korea are among the leading producers of endosulfan in the world with an annual production estimated between 18,000 and 20,000 tonnes per year.

"Its use as a plant protection product is the most relevant emission source for endosulfin," according to a risk management study of this chemical.
Already some 60 countries have banned the use of this deadly pesticide after they found viable alternatives.

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