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END OF THE ROAD

FOR ENDOSULFAN
Pushing for a global ban on a deadly pes�cide

Protecting People and Planett

the end of the road for endosulfan 1


END OF THE CONTENTS
Execu�ve Summary 3

ROAD FOR Introduc�on


Produc�on and use
4
5

ENDOSULFAN The danger to human health


Kerala: A modern-day tragedy leads to a ban
6
11
Endosulfan and the environment 12
Alterna�ves to endosulfan 15
End of the road for endosulfan? 20
Conclusions 21
Recommenda�ons 22
Protecting People and Planett
1 Amwell Street, London EC1R 1UL
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The Environmental Jus�ce Founda�on is a UK-based NGO working


interna�onally on environmental security and human rights.
UK charity registered in England and Wales (1088128).
PDF versions of this report can be found at
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Comments on the report, requests for further copies or specific
queries about EJF should be directed to info@ejfounda�on.org.
This document should be cited as: EJF(2009) End of the Road
for Endosulfan: pushing for a global ban on a deadly pes�cide.
Environmental Jus�ce Founda�on, London, UK. Second version.
GLOSSARY
ISBN No. 1-904523-18-8
This report was researched, wri�en and produced by the Acute poisoning: the harmful health effects resul�ng from high expo-
sure to a toxicant over a short period of �me
Environmental Jus�ce Founda�on.
Allelopathy: the produc�on by plant roots of chemicals which can sup-
Front cover copyrights held by Shree Padre; Ali Loxton; EJF press weed growth
Back cover ©EJF An�feedant: a natural deterrent within a plant that affects pest recep-
tors, discouraging them from feeding on that par�cular plant
Layout and cover design by Guilherme Altmayer.
Bioaccumula�on: a process whereby an organism absorbs a substance
Printed on 100% post- consumer recycled paper faster than it is excreted, resul�ng in the organism having a higher
using vegetable-based inks. concentra�on than the surrounding environment
EJF would like to thank the following people and their Biomagnifica�on: the process whereby the amount of a substance
organisa�ons for the invaluable �me and assistance with found in organisms progressively increases up the food chain
informa�on, ideas and visual materials used in this report: Chronic poisoning: the harmful health effects as a result of low-level
exposure to a toxicant over a prolonged period
Bananalink, CEDAC, Damien Sanfilippo (PAN – UK), Davo Vodouhe,
Cogni�ve: the internal mental processes of thought such as visual pro-
Ellio� Cannell (PAN –UK), Eloise Touni (PAN – UK), Fernando
cessing, memory, problem solving and language
Bejarano (CAATA), IPEN, Jayakumar C (Thanal),
Congenital deformi�es: the deformi�es that develop during the stages
Karl Tupper (PANNA), Lars-O�o Reiersen (AMAP),
of foetal growth
Linda Craig (PAN – UK), Meriel Wa�s (PANAP), Shree Padre.
Eco-toxic: the capability of being severely harmful to the environment
In thanking these individuals, we in no way imply that they Endocrine system: the system of organs within the body that controls
or their organisa�ons endorse the report’s content. hormones. It is instrumental in regula�ng metabolism, growth, develop-
All images copyright Environmental Jus�ce Founda�on (EJF), ment and puberty, and issue func�on, as well as influencing mood
unless otherwise indicated. Genotoxic: the capability of causing damage to a cell’s DNA
Haematological: something rela�ng to blood, the blood-forming organs,
Related EJF Publica�ons (available online at www.ejfounda�on.org)
and blood diseases
Haemotoxin: an agent capable of damaging red blood cells, disrup�ng
blood clo�ng, organ degenera�on and generalized �ssue damage
Larva�cide: an insec�cide that is specifically targeted against the larval
life stage of an insect
Mutagenic: the capability of changing a cell’s DNA, increasing the fre-
quency of muta�ononMany mutagens cause cancer
Neurotoxin: an agent capable of disrup�ng the normal func�oning of
the nervous system
Teratogenic effects: disfiguring birth defects or malforma�ons

2 the end of the road for endosulfan


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

• Endosulfan is a highly toxic chemical, poisonous to most liv-


ing organisms. The United States Environmental Protec�on
Agency classifies it as ‘highly hazardous’.

• Endosulfan is readily absorbed by humans via the stomach,


lungs and through the skin. It can cause endocrine disrup�on
in both terrestrial and aqua�c species. Endosulfan is a neuro-
toxin (damages the nervous system), haematoxin (damages
blood) and nephrotoxin (damages kidneys). Laboratory stud-
ies have also shown that there are poten�al carcinogenic
(cancer-causing) effects.

• Endosulfan has been linked to congenital physical disorders,


mental disabili�es and deaths in farm workers and com-
muni�es across the globe. Symptoms of poisoning include
headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomi�ng, mental confusion,
convulsions, hyperac�vity, seizures, coma and respiratory
depression, in severe cases resul�ng in death.

• Endosulfan is a ‘persistent organic pollutant’ or ‘POP’, as


defined under the Stockholm Conven�on: it persists in the
environment, is bioaccumula�ve (can be concentrated in
©Carlos Latuff
an organism faster than it can be lost), and demonstrates
long range environmental transport from its original source
(endosulfan has been detected in the Arc�c and Himalayas),
affec�ng remote human and wildlife popula�ons.

• To date, 62 countries have banned the use of endosulfan


within their borders as a result of human health and environ-
mental concerns. A proposal to include endosulfan under
the Stockholm Conven�on is also under considera�on. If
ACRONYMS such a lis�ng occurs, it will, in effect, lead to a global ban
on endosulfan’s produc�on and use. Currently, the Indian
CIB Central Insec�cides Board (India) Government, itself a major producer of endosulfan, vigor-
CSE Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi ously opposes any interna�onal ban, stymieing efforts by
EPA (United States) Environmental Protec�on Agency other na�ons to safeguard human health and environmental
FIPPAT Fredrick Ins�tute of Plant Protec�on and Toxicology
FPA Fer�lizer and Pes�cides Authority (India) protec�on.
IARC Interna�onal Agency for Research on Cancer
ICMR Indian Council of Medical Research • Un�l such �me, voluntary ac�ons have been undertaken by
IPM Integrated Pest Management farmers to find economically viable, environmentally sustain-
NHRC Na�onal Human Rights Commission (India) able alterna�ves, including organic produc�on methods.
NIOH Na�onal Ins�tute of Occupa�onal Health
PAN Pes�cide Ac�on Network • This report summarises the compelling evidence of the con-
PCK Planta�on Corpora�on of Kerala siderable threats that endosulfan poses to human health and
PMFAI Pes�cide Manufacturers & Formulators Associa�on
of India
environmental security. In light of the evidence presented, a
WHO World Health Organiza�on number of recommenda�ons are made to key decision-mak-
POPs Persistent Organic Pollutants ers, with the ul�mate aim of securing a global ban on this
deadly chemical pes�cide.

the end of the road for endosulfan 3


INTRODUCTION

IT IS ESTIMATED THAT MORE THAN 5 BILLION LBS OF PESTICIDES ARE USED


GLOBALLY EACH YEAR, WITH A TRADE VALUE OF AROUND US$32 BILLION3.

Pes�cides are hazardous by design; they are manufactured with the sole
aim of killing, repelling or inhibi�ng the growth of specific organisms4. Yet ENDOSULFAN IS AN ORGANOCHLORINE
accidental pes�cide poisonings claim 20,000 human lives each year4, while PESTICIDE USED TO CONTROL A
another 3 million people are non-fatally poisoned and nearly 750,000 new VARIETY OF INSECTS AND MITES
people experience chronic health problems from exposure each year5. ON A VERY WIDE RANGE OF CROPS1
INCLUDING SOY, RICE, WHEAT,
Endosulfan is one of the world’s most dangerous chemical pes�cides, caus-
VEGETABLES, FRUITS, NUTS, COFFEE,
ing immediate and severe health impacts. It is listed by the World Health
TOBACCO AND COTTON. ENDOSULFAN
Organisa�on (WHO) as Class II- moderately hazardous but other authori-
IS APPLIED TO COTTON IN 9 OF
�es believe this underes�mates its hazardous poten�al. It is very toxic to
THE TOP 10 COTTON PRODUCING
humans when inhaled or ingested, and harmful when it comes into contact
COUNTRIES AND IS THE DOMINANT
with skin6,7,8,9. A 2007 United States Environmental Protec�on Agency (US
PESTICIDE IN THE COTTON SECTOR
EPA) assessment concluded that it cannot be used safely in the majority
IN 19 COUNTRIES2. IT IS ONE OF THE
of scenarios for which it is currently approved, and classifies endosulfan
MOST WIDELY USED PESTICIDES:
as Category 1b - highly hazardous10. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental
APPROXIMATELY 338,000 TONNES
Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) reported that it poses significant health
WERE USED GLOBALLY IN 20059.
problems for developing countries and economies in transi�on11.

Endosulfan is regarded as one of the main causes of these poisonings in


many countries12. Children and infants are dispropor�onately affected, as
are farmers and communi�es in developing na�ons. Overall, developing
countries use 25% of the world’s pes�cides, yet they experience 99% of the
deaths13. Inves�gators have found that agricultural workers are not being
adequately protected from pes�cides, and that animals and non-handlers
are coming into contact with the dangerous chemicals applied to crops.

Furthermore, endosulfan belongs to a group of chemicals termed ‘per-


sistent organic pollutants’ (POPs), which are characterised by their high
toxicity, long range transporta�on and persistence in the environment for
long periods. POP chemicals also bioaccumulate; they store easily within
fa�y �ssues and biomagnify by building up in food chains. The chemical
has been found in remote regions including the Arc�c, Antarc�c, Alps and
Himalayas and traces have been detected in the �ssues of animals world-
wide, including polar bears, antelope, crocodiles, Minke whales and African
vultures. It is also a widespread contaminant of human breast milk14.
These cri�cal aspects of long-term environmental pollu�on, together with
health concerns, have led to endosulfan being banned from use in 62 coun-
tries – from the EU to Saudi Arabia and Mali to Cambodia. The European
Union has proposed a global ban, currently under considera�on, under the
Stockholm Conven�on on POPs.

This report considers the overwhelming evidence that the dangers associ-
ated with endosulfan use outweigh its benefits. It presents the results of
numerous scien�fic studies showing the severe adverse effects endosulfan
has on humans and the environment, and the arguments for viable alterna-
�ves. Altogether, there is a compelling case for a global ban on endosulfan
under the Stockholm conven�on and, in the interim, for na�onal govern-
ments and other stakeholders to take immediate ac�on to eradicate this
deadly pes�cide.

4 the end of the road for endosulfan


A small price to pay
for environmental
jus�ce
d help kids
£5 / $6 per month coul
ds, end
get out of the cotton fiel
farmers from
pirate fishing, protect
re, guarantee
deadly pesticide exposu
gees
a place for climate refu

This report has been researched, wri�en and If you have found this free report valuable we ask
published by the Environmental Jus�ce Founda�on you to make a dona�on to support our work. For less
(EJF), a UK Registered charity working interna�onally than the price of a cup of coffee you can make a real
to protect the natural environment and human rights. difference helping us to con�nue our work inves�ga�ng,
documen�ng and peacefully exposing environmental
Our campaigns include ac�on to resolve abuses injus�ces and developing real solu�ons to the problems.
and create ethical prac�ce and environmental
sustainability in co�on produc�on, shrimp farming It’s simple to make your dona�on today:
& aquaculture. We work to stop the devasta�ng
impacts of pirate fishing operators, prevent the use of www.ejfoundation.org/donate
unnecessary and dangerous pes�cides and to secure and we and our partners around the world
vital interna�onal support for climate refugees. will be very grateful.

EJF have provided training to grassroots groups in


Cambodia, Vietnam, Guatemala, Indonesia and Brazil
to help them stop the exploita�on of their natural
environment. Through our work EJF has learnt that
even a small amount of training can make a massive
difference to the capacity and a�tudes of local
campaigners and thus the effec�veness of their
campaigns for change. Protecting People and Planet
PRODUCTION AND USE

Endosulfan has been available for over 5 decades, but is now out of patent
and today there are many generic forms available on the market, mainly
produced in India, China and Israel. India is the fourth largest producer of BAYER CROPSCIENCE
pes�cides in the world and the world’s largest producer and user of endo-
sulfan15,16 with more than 60 manufacturers and formulators. According to Bayer CropScience, a German
the Indian Chemical Council (ICC), India’s top three manufacturers produced company, used to be one of
9,500 tonnes of endosulfan between 2007 and 2008, and 5,500 tonnes the largest manufacturers
were used domes�cally17. The value of India’s technical grade endosulfan of endosulfan, con�nuing to
exports in that period totaled 7,421.16 Rs Lacs (equivalent to around US$
produce endosulfan despite
18.4 million)18. Hindustan Insec�cides Ltd, one of the largest producers
of endosulfan with a produc�on capacity of 1600 tonnes per annum, is a
a European ban on its use.
government-owned company with both domes�c and interna�onal markets However, in response to
for endosulfan. It is not therefore surprising that the Government of India moun�ng health concerns, Bayer
fiercely opposes endosulfan’s inclusion in the Stockholm Conven�on19. CropScience ceased produc�on of
the ac�ve ingredient endosulfan
THE MAJOR PRODUCERS OF ENDOSULFAN at the beginning of 2007. Its
Major Producers Country sale of endosulfan will cease in
Excel Industries Ltd, Hindustan Insec�cides Ltd, Coro- India all countries in which it’s s�ll
mandal Fer�lizers Ltd, EID Parry
registered by the end of 2010.
Asiachem Chemical, Jiangsu Anpon Electrochemical China
Makhteshim Agan Industries Israel

LEFT: Hindustan
Insec�cides
Limited, a major
producer of
endosulfan, is a
Government of
India enterprise

TRADE NAMES
Agrisulfán, Afidan, Aikido, Akodan, Alodan, Axis, Benzoepin, Beosit, BIO 5462,
Bromyx, Caiiman, Callistar, Callisulfan, Chlorbicyclen, Chlorthiepin, Crisulfan,
Cyclodan, Cytophos, Devisulfan, Endocel, Endofan, Endoflo, Endomight Super,
Endopol, Endosan, Endosol, Endosulfan 35 EC, Endo 35 EC, Endotaf, Endoxilan,
Enrofán, Ensure, ENT 23979, FAN 35, Farmoz, Flavylan 350E, FMC 5462, Galgofon,
Galgptal, Global E, Golden Leaf Tobacco Spray, Hexasulfan, Hildan, HOE 2671,
Insectophene, Isolan, Kop-thiodan, Lucasulfan, Malix, Misulfan, NIA 5462, Niagara
5462, Novasulfan, Palmarol, Parrysulfan, Phaser, Rasayansulfan, Red Sun, Rocky,
Sharsulfan, Sialan, Sonii, Sulfan, Thifor, Thimul, Thiodan, Thiofanex, Thiofor, Thio-
flo, Thiomet, Thiomul, Thionate, Thionex, Thiosulfan, Thiosulfax, Thiokil, Thiotox,
All © EJF Tionel, Tionex, Tiovel, Tridane, Termizol pó, Veldosulfan, Vulcán, Zebra Ciagro.

the end of the road for endosulfan 5


THE DANGER TO
HUMAN HEALTH

Endosulfan is acutely toxic and is readily absorbed by the inves�ga�ons in Cambodia – prior to a na�onal ban on
stomach and lungs, and through the skin. Symptoms of endosulfan’s use – revealed similar situa�ons, especially
acute poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vom- on family-owned plots close to homes where infants and
i�ng, mental confusion, convulsions, hyperac�vity, seizures, young children were present25.
coma and respiratory depression, in severe cases resul�ng
in death. Whilst acute symptoms occur in close rela�on Many individuals are also unwi�ngly exposed far from
to a single exposure to a high dose of a chemical, chronic applica�on sites due to endosulfan’s long range transporta-
poisoning symptoms occur a�er repeated exposure to low �on capabili�es. In 2006, a survey of homes in Paris found
levels of agents over a long �me period. that 79% had endosulfan residues in the air, and 20% of
the people sampled were found to have traces on their

EXPOSURE TO ENDOSULFAN20 hands26,27. Endosulfan has also been detected in human


breast milk and placental samples in Egypt, Madagascar,
South Africa, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia,
DIETARY EXPOSURE Pakistan, Spain, Colombia, Nicaragua, Sub-Saharan Africa,
• Inges�ng food that has been sprayed with endosulfan Denmark and Finland36.
• Drinking water from contaminated ground or surface
stores

OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE
• Skin exposure or inhala�on during pes�cide mixing,
loading and/or applying a pes�cide or re-entering
treated sites

ACCIDENTAL EXPOSURE
• Skin exposure or inhala�on due to proximity to endosul-
fan use

Human exposure to endosulfan is a global problem. Occu-


pa�onal exposure is unavoidable for those who use it, and
is exacerbated by poor prac�ce standards and inadequate
protec�ve clothing and equipment for handlers and work-
ers. For many farmers in developing countries, the cost of
protec�ve wear can be prohibi�ve or they may simply have
no access to it, and workers tend to spray barefoot or in
sandals, with no breathing apparatus.

One study found that 100% (n=220) of endosulfan spray-


ers in Spain21 had residues in their blood , and in 2007 the
US EPA stated that even with the maximum recommended
protec�ve equipment, mixers, loaders and handlers of
endosulfan are at short to intermediate-term risk22. Work-
ers may be further at risk because they are unable to read
instruc�ons and warnings on pes�cide containers, either
because of illiteracy or due to labelling in a language other
than their own.

Accidental exposure is very commonplace; there are count-


less reports of non-handlers and animals being in the fields
at the �me of spraying23,24. EJF inves�gators in India and
Mali have observed insec�cides being sprayed as close as Many workers directly
2 metres from children working in co�on fields, directly
exposing young girls and boys to inhala�on, inges�on
handle endosulfan with no protec�ve
and skin absorp�on of these deadly chemicals. Previous clothing ©EJF

6 the end of the road for endosulfan


RIGHT: 99% of
grapes sampled
from European
supermarkets in a
2008 survey contained
pes�cides, including
endosulfan
©Hanspeter Klasse

FROM THE SOURCE INTOLERABLE LIMITS


TO OUR TABLES In its 2002 re-assessment of the human and environmental
effects of endosulfan, the US EPA found that children aged 1-
Inges�on is another major source of exposure; traces of 6 faced unacceptable risks from endosulfan in food – par�cu-
endosulfan have been detected in a great number of super- larly from beans and peas. In order to mi�gate human health
market goods including vegetables, seafood, spices, and even and ecological risks, the Agency was required to end its use
wine corks28 and infant formula29. The US Food and Drug Ad- on five food crops and reduce its use on a further twenty-
ministra�on have detected it in more than 700 of the 5,000 seven20. However, it took five years before these changes
commonly consumed food products in the USA30, and it has were implemented.
been detected in European fruit and vegetables.
EPA’s re-calcula�ons in 2007 found that occupa�onal han-
A 2008 Europe-wide supermarket survey revealed high levels dlers were actually more at risk than the 2002 assessment
of pes�cides in table grapes, where 99% of grapes sampled indicated10. However, in this same year, the EPA raised their
contained pes�cides, and on average 7 pes�cides were threshold of concern for food exposure, which PANNA argues
detected per sample. Italian-grown grapes bought from one gives the illusion that it is unlikely to be a health problem for
major food retailer in France were found to contain endo- the majority, ignoring the significant threat to foetuses and
sulfan, even though its use has been illegal in Europe since infants observed in laboratory studies108.
200731.

In 2008, trace analysis of cherry tomatoes for sale in New VULNERABLE GROUPS
Zealand revealed endosulfan residues in both domes�cally-
grown tomatoes and those imported from Australia32. Simi- Some popula�ons are par�cularly sensi�ve to endosulfan’s
larly, New Zealand government food residue tes�ng in 2008 neurotoxic effects; these include unborn children, infants
found residues in le�uce, strawberries and courge�es33. This and the elderly. Certain medical condi�ons also make people
follows the 2005 South Korean ban on New Zealand-exported par�cularly sensi�ve to adverse affects. The ATSDR iden�fies
beef because of endosulfan contamina�on, which cost the people with liver or kidney disease; pre-exis�ng anaemia or
industry $30 million. More traces of endosulfan were found haematological disorders; neurological problems especially
in a 26kg carton of beef exported in 200834. Since these epi- seizure disorders; people with HIV/AIDs and people with pro-
sodes, the government of New Zealand has banned endosul- tein-deficient diets such as the malnourished poor, chronic
fan, with no further use permi�ed a�er January 16th 2009. alcoholics and dieters as vulnerable groups35.

“I have not being given informa�on about the health


impacts of the pes�cides. In the past we were given
masks, but now no masks come... I don’t use any
safety equipment... I wear long sleeves, trousers, hat,
and an old garment around my face.”
Drissa Coulibaly, a farmer in Mali
the end of the road for endosulfan 7

©EJF
THE DANGER TO HUMAN HEALTH
A DEADLY THREAT: ACUTE POISONING

Absorp�on of endosulfan through the gastrointes�nal


tract is extremely efficient – around 90% is absorbed.
WEST AFRICA
Similarly, absorp�on through the skin can be high; as
much as 50%. Once in the body, the chemical will primar-
THE DELETERIOUS IMPACTS OF
ily target the central nervous system36 and can cause ENDOSULFAN ARE PARTICULARLY WELL
immediate symptoms such as nausea, vomi�ng, dizziness DOCUMENTED IN WEST AFRICAN
and seizures37. Other common symptoms include skin
rashes; eye, nose and throat problems; headaches; diar-
COTTON�GROWING COUNTRIES.
rhoea; depression; loss of coordina�on; inability to stand; In the late 1990s, endosulfan was reintroduced across West
and loss of consciousness38. Africa to combat co�on pests that had built up a resistance
to other agrochemicals. A�er the first co�on season (1999-
Acute poisoning by endosulfan has been responsible for 2000), stories of poisonings and deaths within farming
many deaths world-wide: communi�es began to emerge. Independent surveys con-
• In Brazil, 313 deaths were a�ributed to endosulfan ducted in Benin, Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso between
poisoning between 1982 and 199139. 2000 and 2004 revealed that endosulfan was responsible
for the majority of all acute pes�cide poisoning cases and
• In the 1990s, there was at least one death in the USA a significant number of deaths38. Between 2000 and 2003,
a�ributable to endosulfan poisoning, and another case 400 people in Benin were poisoned by endosulfan and
of irreversible and extensive neurological impairment40. endosulfan poisoning accounted for more than half of all
• In South Africa in 2003, two children died a�er having poisoning-related deaths38.
direct contact with a goat treated with endosulfan36. Unfortunately, accidental exposure - par�cularly by ea�ng
• In November 2008, around 60 school children from a contaminated food - is by far the most common way that
government-run boarding school in Jharkhand, India, people are poisoned. In one incidence, a young boy of
were hospitalized a�er drinking milk contaminated eight had been helping his parents by weeding in the co�on
with endosulfan. Five boys died41. fields. Feeling thirsty, he ran back to the house, but found
an empty container along the way and used it to scoop up
some water from a nearby ditch. He did not return home
so a village search was mounted. Villagers found his body
“When I spray the field everyone is next to the empty endosulfan bo�le he had used to drink
in it, including the children” from. In Benin in 2000, a father le� his pes�cide-soaked
work clothes on the roof of the house over night, in order
N’Go Dembele, a farmer in Mali to keep them safely out of reach from his young children.
It rained overnight, and the water ran over his clothes and
into the family’s water containers. The next morning the
children used this water for drinking and washing. Within
minutes they suffered headaches, nausea and convulsions.
They were immediately rushed to the nearest health cen-
tre, but all four children died within 20 hours38.
In an a�empt to prevent more tragedies like these, Senegal,
Mauritania, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Chad,
Cape Verde, Gambia and Niger42 have introduced bans on
endosulfan’s use. In February 2008, the government of Be-
nin, one of the three largest co�on producers in the region,
announced the pes�cide would be banned a�er exis�ng
stocks were used up.

LEFT: Endosulfan poisoning accounted for more


than half of all poisoning-related deaths in Benin
between 2000 and 2003 ©EJF
8 the end of the road for endosulfan
THE DANGER TO HUMAN HEALTH
CHRONIC EXPOSURE

THE FOETUS AND CHILDREN


UNDER 19 YEARS OF AGE
Endosulfan accumulates in fa�y �ssue, placental �ssue, um-
bilical cord blood and breast milk. This means that a foetus
can be exposed when in utero and then re-exposed a�er
birth through the consump�on of breast milk. PAN Europe
notes that endosulfan has been found in samples from wom-
en in Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa, El Salvador, Kazakh-
stan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Spain, Colombia, Nicaragua,
Denmark and Finland, and in umbilical cord blood samples in
Denmark, Finland, Spain, USA, and Japan. A survey of women
in Denmark and Finland found endosulfan in all samples of ABOVE: Eight month old Sainaba lives
breast milk (total = 130) and in all placental samples (total = in the Kasaragod district close to where
280)109. This exposure takes place at cri�cal periods of devel-
opment, and can have a profound life-long impact.
Endosulfan has been sprayed. She suffers
from hydrocephalus ©Shree Padre
AUTISM
A 2007 study in the USA found that the risk of Au�sm Spec- CONGENITAL PHYSICAL DEFORMITIES
trum Disorder (ASD) increased with maternal proximity to A rela�onship has been observed between maternal expo-
applica�on of endosulfan and dicofol (another pes�cide), sure and foetal malforma�ons in the skull, ribs and spine of
during key periods of gesta�on and with increases in the rats44.
amount of pes�cide applied43.
Physical malforma�ons observed in humans include cle�
palates, harelips, club feet, limb malforma�ons, eye defor-
BELOW: Child labourers in India ea�ng mi�es and extra fingers and toes45.
with their hands a�er working with In a control-compared study of 170 children exposed to
pes�cide-covered plants ©EJF endosulfan in Kerala State, India, 5.8% showed congenital
abnormali�es and 21.8% showed menstrual disorders46.

REPRODUCTIVE DEVELOPMENT
Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor; it prevents and
inhibits the natural hormonal signalling systems. Endocrine
disruptors may alter feedback loops in the brain, pituitary,
gonads, thyroid, and other components of the endocrine
system . Studies show that endosulfan is par�cularly disrup-
�ve and inhibi�ve to male and female sex hormones48,49,50.
Delayed sexual maturity and sex hormone synthesis have
been observed in males of 10-19 years old who have been
exposed to endosulfan. There may also be a rela�onship
between exposure and the prevalence of congenital abnor-
mali�es related to tes�cular descent43.

“When they were spraying pes�cides we


were forced to work. I would develop serious
headaches. Many �mes I fell unconscious”
Nagamma, an 11 year old child labourer in
India who had been working in co�onseed
fields since she was 8 years old

the end of the road for endosulfan 9


THE DANGER TO HUMAN HEALTH
CHRONIC EXPOSURE

ADULTS
CARCENOGENIC EFFECTS? THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Endosulfan has not been classified as carcinogenic by The immune system is adversely affected by endosulfan
the Interna�onal Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), because exposure decreases the white blood cell count.
which means that some regulatory bodies labour under These cells are vital for func�ons such as figh�ng infec�ons,
the misapprehension that there is no evidence of a rela- allergies and for tumour suppression51, 55.
�onship between exposure and cancer.
RENAL EFFECTS
In both animal and human studies, exposure has been
found to cause a prolifera�on of breast cancer cells, Long-term oral and dermal exposure in rats has been found
to ac�vate or antagonize cell receptors, interfere with to result in rapidly progressive Glomerulonephri�s55. This
mammary gland development, and disrupt a variety of is a renal disease that affects the small blood vessels in the
hormonal mechanisms including the produc�on of estro- kidneys.
gens, all of which have the poten�al to increase the risk
NEUROLOGICAL EFFECTS
of breast cancer51. This increased risk could be intergen-
era�onal (i.e. it might affect both mother and child)51. Those exposed over prolonged periods have been found to
experience cogni�ve and emo�onal deteriora�on, severe
Many studies also show endosulfan to be genotoxic and
impairment of memory and inability to perform most daily
mutagenic52,53 – it interferes with the integrity of cell
tasks. Some have also experienced gross impairment of
gene�c material (DNA) causing muta�ons and the de-
visual-motor coordina�on57, 58.
velopment of tumours. Studies show it acts as a tumour
promoter in the liver, causing exposure-related increases Exposure has also been linked to condi�ons such as
in cancerous cells and inhibi�ng natural cell defense cerebral palsy, epilepsy59 and it may increase the risk of
responses54. Parkinson’s disease60.

HAEMATOLOGICAL EFFECTS INFERTILITY


Long-term oral and dermal exposure in male rats has Although there are insufficient studies to be able to predict
been observed to cause aneurysms (blood-vessel dila- the impact of pes�cides on the fer�lity of exposed popula-
�ons)55. �ons, studies have shown that there is an associa�on
between pes�cide exposure and reduced sperm quality in
Blood and urine samples from exposed persons have
humans48,49,55.
also iden�fied endosulfan as the cause of decreased
white blood cell counts, increased blood sugar levels, and
increased enzyme and cardiac marker levels (indica�ve of
heart a�acks and �ssue and muscle damage)56.

RIGHT: Derma��s from


contact with pes�cides
©CEDAC

10 the end of the road for endosulfan


KERALA: A MODERN�DAY
TRAGEDY LEADS TO A BAN

The plight of people in Kerala State, India, is a par�cularly


drama�c example of how endosulfan use can devastate
human health. A combina�on of 20 years of aerial spraying
on cashew planta�ons and unique circumstances mean that
residents were excessively and repeatedly exposed to the
chemical.

In the ini�al years of spraying, few residents had ever seen


a helicopter or plane and would come out of their homes
to watch, ge�ng showered with the chemical where
they stood. Workers in the planta�ons were also directly
exposed to endosulfan as they stood on the edges of the
fields during spraying, marking the boundaries of the spray
zone. Aerial spraying of the pes�cide over the cashew
planta�ons technically should have taken place no more
Sruthi from Padre, Kerala, was born with stag-
than 3m from the canopy level but, because of power lines
horn limbs. Her mother died of cancer and her
above the fields spraying was conducted at a higher height
enabling the pes�cide to be spread further. Workers and
father is very ill. Since 2002, the community has
locals were then re-exposed indirectly to the chemical dur- taken care of her. Now a bright young student,
ing their daily tasks such as washing in contaminated water Sruthi has undergone mul�ple surgeries and
and burning contaminated wood during cooking. every year she has to undergo ar�ficial limb
modifica�on.
The impacts of this exposure soon became apparent as
wildlife died in the fields and animals were born with
severe deformi�es. A high number of people began to suf-
fer from severe and debilita�ng neurophysical condi�ons. mental disabili�es, epilepsy, congenital anomalies, as well as
A local doctor, Dr Mohana Kumar, conducted a survey cancer deaths and suicides from only 400 homes in a 4km2
and found 202 cases of people with psychiatric problems, area58. Later, a District Commi�ee found that the combined
rate of locomotor disability rate and mental disability was
107% higher than the state average61.

Public outcry and con�nued pe��oning from ci�zen groups


as a result of this problem eventually persuaded the Kerala
High Court to impose a state-wide ban on the use of endo-
sulfan in 2002, and in 2006 the new Chief Minister of the
State for Kerala, Sri V S Achutanandan, officially acknowl-
edged the plight of endosulfan vic�ms. Collabora�ve efforts
and a Vic�ms Relief and Remedia�on Cell now offers Rs.
50,000 (US$1,000) in compensa�on to 180 surviving family
members, and at least 300 more have been iden�fied as
vic�ms. Medical and Social Remedia�on is being provided
to at least 3000 villagers, many of them children62.

The state ban is a success for Kerala, but the suffering in this
unique case does highlight the need for global elimina�on.
Unfortunately, the Government of India is heavily invested in
the con�nued use of endosulfan, as it owns one of the larg-
est global manufacturers, Hindustan Insec�cides Ltd.

LEFT: Avinash from Paleppady in Kerala


has cerebral palsy and cannot walk or talk
©Shree Padre

the end of the road for endosulfan 11


ENDOSULFAN AND
THE ENVIRONMENT

The effects of endosulfan on non-target species can be swi�


and devasta�ng. Through surface run-off, evapora�on, or
seepage into ground water stores, a variety of wildlife species
– as well as humans – can be at risk from its harmful effects.
Farmers in Benin have observed birds and frogs dying a�er
ea�ng insects sprayed with endosulfan63. According to one
such farmer, “Fields smell awful two or three days a�er spray-
ing because virtually every living thing has been killed and
starts to rot”64.

Endosulfan is considered to be very toxic to nearly all kinds


of organisms65. It is highly to moderately toxic to birds and
extremely toxic to aqua�c organisms (notably fish but also
amphibians, shrimp and prawns, aqua�c snails and plants and
coral reef organisms). In laboratory studies it has also shown
ABOVE: Endosulfan spills into rivers have
high toxicity in rats, and it appears that female rats are 4–5
�mes more sensi�ve than male rats66.
been responsible for mass fish kills in the
USA, India, Benin, Sudan and Germany.
Research has found that even at sublethal doses endosulfan ©LaDon Swann
induces behavioural and biochemical changes in fish. Its high
toxicity has been responsible for devasta�ng fish stocks across
the globe. In 1995, contaminated run-off from co�on fields TOXICITY TO BENEFICIAL
in Alabama killed more than 24,000 fish along a 25km stretch
of river. This was despite the fact that the pes�cide had been INSECTS AND POLLINATORS
applied according to instruc�ons67. Similarly, mass fish deaths
A study by the University of Florida found that endosulfan
have been reported in India68, Benin69, Sudan70 and Germany71.
is highly toxic to honey bees – which are key pollinators for
many plant species112. Endosulfan has also been found to kill
According to Hiranyagarba Shastri, a villager in beneficial micro-organisms, insects and fungi72,73. Spraying
Padre, “A�er each spraying the fish in people’s in co�on fields in India has correlated with a 60.5% decline
ponds would die.” Then fish and frogs started in ac�nomycetes, micro-organisms that are essen�al for
nutrient cycling in soil75. It has also been linked to reduced
disappearing altogether. The spraying also used emergence and parasi�sm of the parasi�c wasp Tricho-
to coincide with the flowering season and would gramma pre�osum, which is useful in controlling popula�ons
interfere with pollina�on. This subsequently af- of various moth pests76. It is similarly toxic to earthworms,
fected honey bee ac�vity.74 spiders and many species of predacious mites36.

LEFT: Abandoned
pes�cide containers
are a common source
of environmental
contamina�on ©EJF
12 the end of the road for endosulfan
Endosulfan and its POP characteris�cs
Residues of endosulfan have been observed in every cor-
LONG�RANGE ner of the Earth, great distances from the places where
ENVIRONMENTAL it has been released. Residues have now been found in
remote ecosystems such as the Arc�c80, the Antarc�c, the
TRANSPORTATION Great Lakes, the Canadian Rockies and the rainforests of
Costa Rica22, as well as in grasses on Mt. Everest81 and in
Like the widely banned pes�cides DDT, chlordane and diel- snow in the Italian Alps82. Saharan dust, contaminated
drin, endosulfan is an organochlorine and as such, is persis- with three different forms of endosulfan and blown across
tent in the environment. Due to its ability to evaporate and the Atlan�c, has been detected in air samples taken from
travel long distances in the atmosphere, endosulfan has the Caribbean83. Analysis has shown that endosulfan is
become one of the world’s most widespread pollutants. also contamina�ng groundwater stores across the globe.
Studies have found it in 38% of samples taken in Portu-
Within two days of spraying, up to 70% of endosulfan can gal84, 83% of samples from tube wells in agricultural areas
vola�ze from leaf and soil surfaces77, and can then be trans- of India85, and in all samples of groundwater in Morocco86
ported by wind over long distances. It has an es�mated and frequently in samples of Guatemalan surface and
atmospheric half-life of 27 days (± 11 days), although this ground water87.
figure could be far higher, depending on air tempera-
ture65. A further 2% of the sprayed chemical is carried off Residues of endosulfan have also been detected in the
in surface run-off, while 1% remains in the soil. Therefore, �ssues of animals across the globe, including ante-
around 73% of the applied pes�cide leaves the site of ap- lope, crocodiles, African vultures, and in the blubber of
plica�on78. The US EPA notes that, “Monitoring data and elephant seals in the Antarc�c, in the �ssue and blood
incident reports confirm that endosulfan is moving through of polar bears in Svalbard and in the blubber of minke
aqua�c and terrestrial food chains and that its use has whales14,88.
resulted in adverse effects on the environment adjacent to
and distant from its registered use sites”79.
BIOACCUMULATION
Endosulfan stores easily within the fa�y �ssues of living
organisms, and it accumulates in concentra�on whilst
exposure con�nues – that is, the organism absorbs endo-
sulfan at a greater rate than it can be excreted. Studies
have shown that both aqua�c and terrestrial species can
accumulate concentra�ons of endosulfan to a signifi-
cant extent23, but the suscep�bility to bioaccumula�on
varies greatly between species – for example, oysters
and bivalves appear to accumulate very li�le endosul-
fan, whilst some fish species accumulate endosulfan
much more readily65. Terrestrial species show a greater
rela�ve poten�al for accumula�on than aqua�c species,
and monitoring data has shown that concentra�ons of
endosulfan have increased over �me in beluga whale
blubber samples from the Canadian Arc�c89, the �ssue of
freshwater tetra in Brazil90 and even in plants. Two year
old conifer needles in Western na�onal parks of the USA
were found to have three �mes the concentra�on of en-
ABOVE: Endosulfan exposure dosulfan that one year old needles had . This characteris-
can cause physical deformi�es in �c, teamed with endosulfan’s high toxicity, means there is
animals ©Shree Padre significant poten�al for damage88.

the end of the road for endosulfan 13


ENDOSULFAN AND THE ENVIRONMENT

PERSISTENCE Endosuflan has been found in the


Endosulfan degrades rela�vely quickly in water (half-life = blood of polar bears.
2-22 days), but in soil degrades slowly (its half-life ranges ©Steve Amstrup/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
28-391 days88. The major degrada�on product, endosulfan
sulphate is not only more persistent but is also toxic. The
combined half-lives range from around 9 months to 6 years
and anaerobic condi�ons might extend these half-lives
significantly65. By means of comparison, the Stockholm
Conven�on regards chemicals as persistent if they have a
half-life greater than 183 days88. In Kerala, India, residues
were s�ll detected in stream water and pond sediments a
year and a half a�er spraying ceased48.

THE LAG EFFECT


A recent study110 found that the toxic effects of endosulfan
exposure can take more than four days to manifest. Scien-
ENDOSULFAN IN THE ARCTIC
�sts from the University of Pi�sburgh, USA, found that up
Residues of endosulfan detected in parts of the
to 97% of some species of tadpole perished days a�er they
Arc�c, where there are no human ac�vi�es to
had been removed from direct exposure to endosulfan. This
explain the contamina�on, show that the polar
poten�ally calls into ques�on the US EPA’s standard four-day
region is ac�ng as a sink for this pollutant that is
toxicity test for chemicals, which could underes�mate the
being transported over long distances. Endosulfan
physiological impact of endosulfan.
is accumula�ng in the polar region, and in fact
atmospheric levels of alpha-endosulfan (the major
BIOMAGNIFICATION component of technical endosulfan) are now
considered comparable to levels near applica�on
Research indicates that endosulfan can also biomagnify up sites92. Unlike some of the other persistent
food-chains10, so that higher level predators have higher con- pollutants, endosulfan levels in the remote Arc�c
centra�ons in their bodies. It is thought that its biomagni- are not showing a declining trend over �me92.
fica�on may be greater in terrestrial ecosystems than in the Scien�sts have known for more than a decade that
marine food chain, based on modelling of Arc�c food chains, the levels of POPs in this region are high enough
where concentra�ons increased from lichen to caribou (Ran- to adversely affect some indigenous communi�es
gifer tarandus) and caribou to wolves (Canis lupus)78. and marine animals92. In the case of endosulfan,
the pollutant has been found to travel up the food
chain, in some cases increasing in concentra�on,
RIGHT: affec�ng species that tradi�onally form the
The progressive mainstay of indigenous diets. Thus, indigenous
increase in people must either face a significant health and
endosulfan food security threat by con�nuing with their
concentra�on WOLF tradi�onal diet10,92, or switch to a more ‘western’
diet which has been linked to obesity, diabetes,
up the anemia, and dental problems93.
food chain
“To discover that the food which for genera�ons
CARIBOU
has nourished them and kept them whole
physically and spiritually is now poisoning
them is profoundly disturbing and threatens
LICHEN Indigenous Peoples’ cultural survival.” AMAP94

©BIEN52, Dean Biggins/ US Fish and Wildlife Service

14 the end of the road for endosulfan


ALTERNATIVES TO
ENDOSULFAN

Endosulfan is not the only viable op�on for protec�ng


crops, and promo�ng sustainable, economically and techni-
cally viable alterna�ves to endosulfan will help secure pub-
A BAN DOESN’T SPELL
lic and environmental health. Alterna�ves do not have to
reduce crop yields either; sixty-two countries have banned
DISASTER � THE CASE OF
the use of endosulfan and are introducing alterna�ves that SRI LANKA
can maintain yields. Furthermore, alterna�ves may have Endosulfan was one of three pes�cides
to be used as pests con�nue to become resistant to the responsible for many of the severe
chemical; at present, resistance has developed in at least
poisoning cases in Sri Lanka during
28 species affec�ng at least 22 crops95.
the 1980s and early 1990s. As a result,
There are less toxic chemical alterna�ves, and Integrated endosulfan was banned in 1998. A 2008
Pest Management (IPM) is a method of reducing or study concluded that this ban did not affect
avoiding some of the worst aspects of chemical pes�cide the yield sizes of any of the 13 evaluated
use. A 2008 PAN Germany report noted that endosulfan,
crops for 1990–2003, nor did it increase the
which lost its na�onal registra�on approval in 1991, has
been successfully replaced with other methods, including
costs of rice produc�on. It has, however,
non-chemical pest control methods in an IPM system96. been linked to a significant reduc�on in
However, IPM does not eradicate the use of pes�cides, and accidental poisoning deaths, a 40–50%
many farmers around the globe are therefore taking the op- progressive reduc�on in suicide by self-
portunity to convert their produc�on to organic methods, poisoning with pes�cides and a reduc�on in
thereby elimina�ng the risks posed by chemical pes�cides the overall suicide rate over 1995–2002100.
(as well as fungicides and herbicides). This development
can be welcomed for its posi�ve role in protec�ng human
health and the natural environment, without compromising
the livelihood needs of farmers.

Organic produc�on has been proven in many instances to BELOW: Organic farming is be�er for the
maintain, or even increase, profit margins for producers. environment, safer for workers and could
Twenty-two countries now produce organic co�on, with increase profit margins for farmers ©EJF
India, Syria, Turkey, China, Tanzania, USA, Uganda, Peru,
Egypt and Burkina Faso producing the greatest amounts97.
Efforts by Pes�cide Ac�on Network, together with the Inter-
na�onal Federa�on of Organic Agricultural Movements and
others, are pioneering research, educa�on and outreach
to farmers across the globe98,99. Many of the case studies
included in this sec�on are tes�mony to these efforts to
support and promote successful organic produc�on in a
variety of crops.

“Organic farming...saves lives


from not using pes�cides. We
no longer have debt problems.
Income is all profit at the end
of the season. Land and soil
are preserved.”
Benin Farmer Gera Paul
the end of the road for endosulfan 15
ALTERNATIVES TO ENDOSULFAN
NON�CHEMICAL ALTERNATIVES

PHYSICAL CONTROL METHODS101,102


Pest control measure Mechanism Other benefits
Bagging fruit Recycled newspapers or plas�c bags are used to bag maturing • Protects the fruit from scratches and damage
fruit to protect it from fruit flies • Gives a reliable indicator of the harvest yield
Companion plan�ng A diverse group of crops are planted to a�ract beneficial insects • Can act as a sacrificial crop to protect the main
to pollinate or predate on other insects crop
• Can act as a buffer to protect vulnerable grow-
ing crops
• Nitrogen fixing
Compos�ng Decaying organic ma�er is used to control pathogens • Improves soil quality

Materials could include tank silt, compost, vermicompost,


poultry manure, green leaf manure and cowdung
Crop rota�on The rota�on of crops between family groups is used to elimi- • Improves soil quality
nate host-specific, disease-causing organisms by starva�on

Trapping Pests are trapped and killed


e.g. Pheromone traps, light traps, sugar-based traps, soil traps
(deep ditches, s�cky board traps and protec�ve collars around
plant stems)
Hand picking The hand picking of pests allows a targeted approach to specific
pests in their egg and adult forms
Mulching An organic or inorganic layer is added to act as a barrier to • Enables the environmental condi�ons to be
pests kept more stable
• Provides good condi�ons for earthworms and
natural enemies
• Protects soils against heavy rains
Pruning Infected leaves or leaves with egg masses are removed • Improves circula�on between plants
• Encourages natural enemy preda�on
• Helps limit the spread of diseases
Provision of bird perches Birds which predate on pests are encouraged • Increases biodiversity

BOTANICAL PESTICIDES
There are numerous botanical pes�cides that can be grown and
mixed by farmers with comparably no risk to health. These in-
clude larva�cides formulated using aloe extract; repellents using
plants like lemongrass or coriander, or cow urine or bu�ermilk
solu�ons; and insec�cides using ginger and chilli. Farmers can
even formulate botanical roden�cides using Gliricidia or the
leaves and unripe fruit of papaya plants. Many of the plants
used in these formula�ons have mul�ple benefits for crop grow-
ing. Neem, for example, is a repellent, insec�cide, an�bacterial
agent, an�-fungal agent, an�feedant, a growth inhibitant, and
crop and grain protectant. Studies show that its use carries no
side-effects for humans, and it does not persist in the environ-
ment. It is not harmful to beneficial species like earthworms. Its
target species – such as lea�oppers, aphids, and whitefly, do not
build up a resistance to it97.

16 the end of the road for endosulfan


ALTERNATIVES TO ENDOSULFAN
ORGANIC CROP PRODUCTION

THE ECONOMICS OF ORGANIC CROPS IN


SWITCHING TO ORGANIC NORTHERN IRELAND
PRODUCTION The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE)
in Northern Ireland has been growing organic crops to provide
There can be no doubt that a switch to organic produc�on concentrate feed for its sheep and ca�le for a number of years.
can have economic advantages. Market research shows They grow oats and tri�cale, with no problems from weeds
that premium prices are favoured towards organic prod- because of their allelopathy. They also grow an oat and pea mix-
ucts, where organic co�on prices are as much as 20-30% ture in order to increase the protein content of the feed. The
higher than conven�onal co�on prices97. Research also college reported gross margins in 2006 of £1,682 for tri�cale,
shows that consumers are willing to spend more for envi- £1,275 for oats and £1,252 for the oat and pea mixture (based
ronmentally sensi�ve products: up to 20% more for general on produc�on costs and poten�al sale value) – significant mar-
eco-products, and up to 100% more for organic food prod- gins compared to the top 25% benchmarked figure for conven-
ucts103. The market for these products is expanding rapidly �onal spring barley crops, which was £529 per hectare104.
and producers should take note. The 2007/8 organic co�on
crop year experienced an es�mated 152% overall increase
in produc�on on 2006/7. Approximately 60% of this was
ORGANIC COTTON IN INDIA
from the expansion of pre-standing projects, whilst 40% Organic farmers in India have shown that organic prac�ces can
was newly cer�fied or previously unknown projects97. be far more profitable than conven�onal methods, with rev-
enues from organic sales approximately 30% higher than from
conven�onal sales98.

Successful organic alterna�ves have included98:


• More robust co�on crop alterna�ves
• Maintaining a diverse crop rota�on
• Intercropping with maize and pigeon peas as trap crops, or
with flowering plants to a�ract beneficial insects
• The use of repellents and botanical pes�cides
• Using ‘Tricho cards’ that hold parasi�zed eggs. Once placed
in the field, the emerging parasi�c wasp (Trichogramma)
will parasi�ze the eggs of other insects. In India it is used
to parasi�ze the eggs of the bollworm moth, one of the key
co�on pests.
A 2009 report by Indian NGO Thanal documents the economic
benefits of conversion to what is termed ‘Non Pes�cidal Man-
agement’ (NPM). Since 2002, three thousand villages in Andhra
Pradesh have been moving to more sustainable methods of
farming, with farmers themselves lending support and advice
Compara�ve profits of agrochemical-based produc�on and to other farming communi�es seeking to move away from a
organic produc�on: an Indian example105
dependency on endosulfan and other pes�cides. By 2009, the
Jillela Yella Reddy, Ponnam Mallaiah, programme for NPM covered an area of 1.7 million acres, or 5%
Kallem Village, Warrangal, using
of total agricultural land in Andhra Pradesh. The programme is
Warrangal, using organic farming
pes�cides and methods
based on principles including ecological sustainability (no chemi-
fer�lizer cals, no GMO, low use of energy and water, economic sustain-
ability), locally-available inputs to help generate benefits for the
Investment on co�on Rs. 15,250 Rs. 8,550
crop on one acre local economy, social empowerment, and the promo�on of local
decision-making and coopera�ves102.
Total yield 12 quintals 10 quintals
Prior to the NPM programme, one village, Enabavi, was spend-
Total gross income Rs. 24,600 Rs. 22,000 ing around Rs. 64,200 (US$1300 at 2009 conversion rates) on
Net Income Rs. 9,350 Rs. 13,450 214 litres of endosulfan per year102.

the end of the road for endosulfan 17


ALTERNATIVES TO ENDOSULFAN

“I used to cul�vate co�on which is a pes�cide intensive crop. Aphids,


whitefly, bollworms and green leaf hopper created problems for me. I
resorted to chemical pes�cides to protect my crops but found nothing
ENDOSULFAN:
worked for me. A�er I turned to NPM, dependency on externali�es have
reduced considerably. There is no yield reduc�on and so my revenue is
ALTERNATIVES IN
the same, but expenditure came down from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 300 [US$60 LATIN AMERICA
to US$6]. NPM needs extra manpower and care. But it gives confidence
and freedom from external risks. Moreover it creates more local economic
opportuni�es”. E�aboina Siddulu, farmer, Enabavi, Warangal district, Two recent PAN reports document
Andhra Pradesh, India insect management alterna�ves to
endosulfan for a variety of crops.
THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING TO Mechanisms include interspersed
mul�ple crops; leaving the host
ORGANIC PRODUCTION: WESTERN habitats for predatory insects,
AFRICA parasi�c wasps and caterpillars; and
the use of beneficial fungus alongside
Model projec�ons show that the benefits of switching to organic crop the use of wasps (par�cularly
produc�on could apply to many co�on producing countries, par�cularly useful to combat the spread of the
in western Africa. Projec�ons based on Mali’s organic produc�on versus coffee berry borer)106. Successful
conven�onal methods indicate that switching could increase farmers’
alterna�ves have been employed in
profits in the mid-to long-term, with extra revenue from higher premium
prices. Switching would also have environmental benefits - it would likely the produc�on of vegetables, coffee,
increase soil fer�lity as well as halt the release of toxic pes�cides. People tobacco and beans in Chile, Cuba,
would benefit from improved health and would need to spend less on Bolivia, Paraguay and Costa Rica.
medicine to treat the results of exposure to pes�cides103.

In Benin, a growing number of co�on farmers have proven that co�on


can be grown without endosulfan using alterna�ve pest management
techniques, integrated indigenous techniques, and bio-control mecha-
nisms. The use of food sprays to encourage predators has helped to BELOW: Women prepare neem
control caterpillar pests and bollworm in par�cular98. mixture, a natural pes�cide
©Pes�cide Ac�on Network UK

18 the end of the road for endosulfan


END OF THE ROAD FOR
ENDOSULFAN?

In addi�on to the na�onal bans implemented by 62


countries to date, endosulfan has been considered for
global regula�on under two Conven�ons. As com-
THE STOCKHOLM
mentators have noted, however, the manufacturers of
endosulfan, especially those in India, have opposed any
CONVENTION ON
regula�on. The result has been that “so-called scien�fic PERSISTENT ORGANIC
processes have become highly charged poli�cally, and
their integrity endangered.” Meriel Wa�s, PAN ANZ27 POLLUTANTS �POPS�
THE PIC PROCESS AND The Stockholm Conven�on on Persistent
Organic Pollutants (POPs) aims to protect
ROTTERDAM CONVENTION human health and the environment by
The Ro�erdam Conven�on addresses interna�onal globally banning the produc�on and use of
trade in hazardous chemicals. It does not restrict trade persistent, bioaccumula�ve chemicals. A
but, through the legally-binding Prior Informed Consent number of chemicals, including DDT, are
(PIC) procedure, promotes informa�on exchange about already listed under the Conven�on. The EU
hazardous chemicals and assists less developed coun-
has proposed that endosulfan be added to
tries in enforcing na�onal bans and restric�ons on listed
chemicals. In effect, a country must give prior informed
the list, but before a ban can be achieved a
consent before a listed chemical can be imported. chemical must go under the lengthy review
process and then discussion at a Conference
In March 2007, the Chemical Review Commi�ee of PIC of the Par�es. In November 2008, the POPs
agreed that endosulfan should be included in Annex III
Review Commi�ee (POPRC) could not reach
(the list of chemicals banned or severely restricted). At
the Conference of the Par�es in October 2008, almost all
consensus and a vote was taken: the majority
of the country delega�ons supported its inclusion, bar a of par�es voted for it to progress through the
handful of signatories who raised concerns, which was review process, while India and China refused
enough to prevent a consensus decision, as required to vote, and Germany, Ghana and Sierra
under the Conven�on for any new lis�ng. The Indian Leone abstained107.
Government led the opposi�on to the lis�ng. Signifi-
cantly, this delega�on was guided by representa�ves
of the Indian Chemical Council (ICC) and government- As a result of this vote, in 2009 the POPRC
owned Hindustan Insec�cides Limited: one of the largest will develop a ‘risk profile’, assessing whether
manufacturers of endosulfan. Without a consensus, the endosulfan is likely to lead to such adverse
final decision on whether to include endosulfan has now environmental and human impacts that global
been postponed un�l 2010. ac�on is warranted, and this will be reviewed
at the next POPRC mee�ng in October 2009.
Should the POPRC decide on the basis of the
risk profile that the proposal should proceed,
“India will be remembered a ‘risk management evalua�on’ will be the
next step, analyzing the range of op�ons for
as pu�ng the economic endosulfan’s management and elimina�on.
interests of its chemical
industry ahead of the health At the end of the process, POPRC will
and welfare of the users of make a recommenda�on to the COP and a
vote (consensus or by 3⁄4 majority vote is
the industry’s products” required) on whether to list endosulfan will
Karl Tupper, Pes�cide Ac�on be taken.
Network North America
the end of the road for endosulfan 19
TOWARDS GLOBAL
ERADICATION � NATIONAL
ACTIONS LEAD THE WAY
Currently 62 countries have banned endosulfan, and oth-
ers are reassessing its use within their borders. In 2007,
the US EPA released calcula�ons showing that endosulfan
cannot be used safely in the vast majority of scenarios for
which it is currently approved, leaving farmers exposed to
unacceptably high levels of risk. To date, the EPA has been
pe��oned by interna�onal scien�sts, health profession-
als, farmworkers and non-profit organisa�ons, and in April
2009 re-opened a ‘60-day docket’ opportunity for public ©EJF
comment, to which tens of thousands of individuals signed
pe��ons calling for ac�on. Following the recent announce-
ment of bans from New Zealand, Iran and the Philippines it COUNTRIES THAT HAVE BANNED
is clear that na�onal sovereignty can play a significant role ENDOSULFAN
in addressing this global problem. Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin,
Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape
Verde, Chad, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire,
Croa�a, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark,
Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany,
Greece, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Indonesia,
WHY ENDOSULFAN IS A POP88
Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia,
Criteria Evidence
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali,
Persistence Est. half-life in soil of 28-391 days
Malta, Mauritania, Mauri�us, Netherlands,
Bioaccumula�on Predicted biomagnifica�on factor (BMF) New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway,
values ranging from 2.5 to 28 for herbivo-
rous and carnivorous wildlife. Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar,
The main concern comes from the com- Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore,
bina�on of its bioaccumula�on poten�al Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, St
with its high toxicity and eco-toxicity
Lucia, Sweden, Syria, United Arab Emirates,
Poten�al for RLevels of 0.9 and 3.02 ng/g have been
long-range observed in the blubber of elephant seals
United Kingdom
environmental in the Antarc�c.
transport Evidence of transporta�on is confirmed by COUNTRIES THAT HAVE RESTRICTED
Arc�c monitoring data.
ENDOSULFAN
Vola�liza�on is well documented and an
atmospheric half-life of 27 days (± 11 days) Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Honduras,
has been es�mated. Iceland, Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Panama,
Adverse effects Results show it has the poten�al to cause Russia, Thailand, USA
endocrine disrup�on in both terrestrial and
aqua�c species.
Associated medical condi�ons include
COUNTRIES REASSESSING ENDOSULFAN
neurotoxicity, haematological effects and Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela
nephrotoxicity but the chemical shows
no carcinogenic or mutagenic proper�es.
Studies vary on the conclusion for terato- COUNTRIES MANUFACTURING
genic effects. ENDOSULFAN
Endosulfan is metabolised quickly and China, Israel, India
some metabolites show significant toxicity.

20 the end of the road for endosulfan


CONCLUSIONS

Endosulfan is a toxic pes�cide and persistent organic pollut- To date, 62 countries have already voluntarily banned the
ant linked to severe adverse effects. It has been responsible use of endosulfan within their borders, and all but a small
for hundreds of deaths worldwide, and significant short and number of par�es to the Ro�erdam Conven�on supported
long-term human health impacts. Endosulfan kills indiscrimi- its inclusion in the annexes of the Conven�on in late 2008.
nately and is devasta�ng to the environment, contamina�ng Efforts to prevent a global ban are inextricably linked to
soils, air and water, and damaging aqua�c and terrestrial spe- self-interest – in par�cular, one of the world’s leading
cies alike, including those that are beneficial to crop health. producers of endosulfan is administered by the Indian Gov-
Endosulfan’s ability for long-range environmental transport, ernment, which has consistently opposed any regula�on of
together with its adverse effects support the need for con- endosulfan.
certed interna�onal ac�on.
Endosulfan has killed, and will con�nue to kill and maim
Alterna�ves to endosulfan use have proven to be environ- if it con�nues to be legal. Na�onal prohibi�ons on use,
mentally sustainable and socially and economically viable. together with inclusion under the Stockholm Conven�on
Increasing numbers of farmers are turning to organic produc- will ensure endosulfan’s eradica�on from global use and
�on methods that u�lise a variety of means to control pests an opportunity to protect people and their shared environ-
naturally, and without resor�ng to chemical pes�cides. ment from this deadly chemical.

the end of the road for endosulfan 21


©EJF
RECOMMENDATIONS

CONSUMERS AND THE WIDER NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS


PUBLIC SHOULD: SHOULD:
• Call on their government to implement a na�onal ban on • Sign and ra�fy the Stockholm Conven�on and support
endosulfan if it has not already done so. the inclusion of endosulfan into the Conven�on annexes.
• Encourage their government – if a signatory party – to • Sign and ra�fy the Ro�erdam Conven�on on the Prior
support the inclusion of endosulfan into the Stockholm Informed Consent (PIC) procedure and support the
Conven�on and the Ro�erdam Conven�on. inclusion of endosulfan under the PICs procedure.
• Make their concerns known to food and clothing • Announce domes�c prohibi�ons on the manufacture,
retailers, and ask if the companies they buy from can import, sale and use of endosulfan, and ensure that
give assurances that endosulfan has not been used in there are adequate resources available to ensure
the produc�on process. effec�ve implementa�on and compliance.
• Support the produc�on and trade of organic products. • Support the expansion of organic farming through the
provision of technical and financial support for organic
farmer field schools, research dissemina�on and
AGROCHEMICAL COMPANIES awareness-raising.

SHOULD:
• Immediately cease to manufacture endosulfan and
THE UNITED NATIONS
dispose of all stockpiles safely. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
ORGANISATION SHOULD:
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS • Expand and build on current organic and Integrated
AND FARMERS SHOULD: Pest Management (IPM) projects, par�cularly in Africa
and Asia, and ensure that IPM projects do not permit or
• Avoid the use of endosulfan, and seek alterna�ves. promote the use of endosulfan.
• Implement organic produc�on methods wherever
• Support the wider dissemina�on of informa�on on
possible.
organic produc�on methods and the conversion to
produc�on that is not reliant on harmful chemical
RETAILERS SHOULD: pes�cides.
• Monitor their supply chains, instruc�ng suppliers not to
source from producers that use endosulfan.
• Offer organic alterna�ves for consumers.
THE WORLD HEALTH
ORGANISATION SHOULD:
• Upgrade endosulfan from Class II (moderately
hazardous) to Class Ib (highly hazardous).

22 the end of the road for endosulfan


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the end of the road for endosulfan 23


PROTECTING
PEOPLE AND
PLANET
24 the end of the road for endosulfan