Jayakumar Chelaton of Thanal, an environmental health organization, based out in the state of Kerala in southwestern India, specifically urged the authorities to support the official listing of endosulfan in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for elimination with no specific exemptions.
Chelaton, who is also a recognized Zero Waste champion in the global south, is in Manila at the invitation of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) to attend a regional campaign strategy meeting to combat waste incineration. “I appeal to President Aquino and other officials to actively support the banning of endosulfan in the Philippines and across the globe to bring to a just end the decades of untold human affliction and irreparable ecological harm caused by endosulfan,” he said.
Chelaton cited the tragic experience of villages in the Kasaragod district, Kerala who were subjected to continuous exposure to endosulfan, which was aerially sprayed on cashew plantations three times every year for 25 years, contaminating human bodies and the surrounding ecosystems. Some 4,300 people out of the over 9,000 endosulfan poisoning victims that have been identified in Kasaragod are bedridden and 526 victims are recognized as having died due to endosulfan poisoning, Chelaton lamented. A fact sheet published by Thanal and the Pesticide Working Group of the International POPs Elimination Network cited reproductive health problems, congenital birth defects, neurological and mental diseases, loss of immunity and cancers as some of the health problems seen among the villagers, which were directly linked to endosulfan exposure.
Over 200 diseases have been associated with endosulfan poisoning and the Kerala government is spending one billion Indian rupees (over US$22 million) to start the remediation and relief in 2011 alone and is expected to spend 200 million rupees (almost US$4.5 million) annually to continue the relief work.
In November 2010, the Pollution Control Board of the Kerala government prohibited the use of endosulfan throughout the state, which has a population of over 30 million people.
The Stockholm Conventin is a legally binding global agreement that the Senate of the Philippines ratified in 2004 to protect human health and the environment from very dangerous chemicals known as POPs, which are toxic to both human beings and wildlife.
Also known as the POPs treaty, the agreement requires parties to take action to eradicate the production of POPs, reduce unintentional sources, and safely manage and clean up remaining stockpiles and wastes.
The fifth Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention will take place on April 25 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland with Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna and Renato Cruz of the Environmental Management Bureau representing the Philippines.