The Last Chance

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The Last Chance Powered By Docstoc
    Dedicated to
    Our farmers of India, especially
    the small and marginal farmer
    The farm ecosystem - honeybees
    and beneficial insects who do not
    have a voice

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                                  We, the farmers of India

                               It all started on the 26th of January 2011, our 62nd Republic Day. I had come to my
                               village to meet my father and grandfather. Usually, at this time of the morning, they
                               are in the fields, but on that day, they were glued to the television, watching the
                               Republic Day parade. I too could not take my eyes off the magnificent sight that was
                               happening along the long, never-ending road of Rajpath: the marching of our different
                               military regiments, each with its own band; the colourful floats from the different
                               states that make up our Sovereign Democratic Republic.

                               The pride on my grandfather’s face – he had been a freedom fighter -- was a sight to
                               behold. At one point, he burst out, “This is who we are as a nation, so diverse,
                               so unique and yet united under one flag, the saffron, white and green, Tiranga”.

                               I too was moved. I am not an emotional type, but when our National Anthem plays
                               and builds up to the last lines… Jaya He! Jaya He!…, my eyes get a little misty.
                               Of course, I make sure nobody sees this side of me. You have to be tough in life, that’s
                               my motto.

                               My grandfather has played a big role in this. All my life and that is a long period of 25
                               years, I have admired him. I am a little scared of him as well, but that’s another thing,
                               I do not readily disclose. Even now, at the age of 82, grandfather is so much respected
                               in the community. When I was young, I accompanied him every time he made a
    Copyright © 2011           speech in our village or in neighbouring villages. Always, he would begin with a call
    KRISHI HITRAKSHAK SAMITI   that rang out loud and clear ... Bharat Mata ki Jai! Bhagwan Balram ki Jai! Gau Mata
    Mandvi - Kachchh           ki Jai!
    Gujarat, India

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    May our motherland be victorious! May Lord Balram, the guardian angel of farmers watch     And that’s what I told my elders. Their faces turned to thunder. Grandfather in
    over us! May all our animals and all our beloved cows prosper!                             particular got extremely wild...“So you think there is nothing wrong in some people
                                                                                               in some European country telling us farmers in India, what we can and cannot use?
    Father is more my friend than my elder. Some days ago, he had sent word that I should      How dare they!” shouted Grandfather. Father also got a scolding...“ I told you not to
    go see him. Yes, we have a phone in our village house, but he will not use it unless       send him to the city, now see what has become of him! He does not give a damn what
    absolutely necessary. You must respect money, he is fond of saying. Money does not         hardships will befall us with such a ban!”
    grow on trees. But when it came to my education and the education of all my sisters,
    somehow or the other, father made sure that the money that we needed was there.            I wanted to tell grandfather that I did not live in a city. I stay in a wonderful place, but it
    So, I got a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. In his heart of hearts, my         is a small town at best. Of course, now was not the time to open my mouth. That much
    farmer-father must have wanted his only son to follow in his footsteps, but he let me      sense I had.
    go. To my destiny which I thought was in the world of corporate finance. But now I am
    digressing...                                                                              Father intervened. He is the calm one among us; so composed, so supportive.
                                                                                               Like an ancient tree still in all its glory, there to shelter me from the storm.
    After the Republic Day parade was over, the elders took me aside. Something was
    troubling them. They asked me if I knew anything about an impending ban on a               He showed me a newspaper article which mentioned that a study conducted in Padre
    pesticide. I knew they were talking about Endosulfan because I spend every free            village in Kasargod district of Kerala held Endosulfan responsible for birth defects,
    moment on the internet and I had come across several reports about the Stockholm           impotency and even cancer.
    Convention which has started a process to ban this pesticide. But I had not paid any
    attention to these reports. One pesticide is banned; another will take its place, that’s   Grandfather erupted once again. “That can’t be! These reports are false! I have used
    what I had thought.                                                                        Endosulfan for 30 years and more! Nothing has happened to me or to the hundreds
                                                                                               of farmers in this district whom I know as closely as I know my family. Nothing has
                                                                                               happened to our children and grandchildren either. Do they think we are so heartless
                                                                                               we would use something that puts our children at risk?! We would rather give up

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    farming, starve if need be, than do something so unthinkable! These reports are         The next evening when I met Parvati, my fiancée, at our favourite ice cream parlour,
    false!”                                                                                 I thought at least she would feel sorry for me, but no, she took the order from high
                                                                                            command very seriously. She too is a farmer’s daughter, although now she is studying
    Just then, two-year old Guddi made an appearance. She settled on grandfather’s          economics and commerce. She is always full of questions. Why this, why that;
    lap and demanded a story from him. Thankful for the diversion, I quickly turned to      sometimes it irritates me, but on the whole, I have no complaints. I am truly blessed.
    father. “Why is grandfather so upset? What is so special about Endosulfan? Let the
    newspapers say what they want. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong;              I knew it! I knew it! I could see it in her eyes, yes, here it was, the first question. And
    why do we want to get involved with all that! If the Stockholm Convention bans this     surely not the last! She wanted to know what the Stockholm Convention was and why
    pesticide	because	it	is	a	Persistent	Organic	Pollutant	(POP),	I	am	sure	those	people	   I was saying POP, POP. Before I could tell her what little I knew, she had opened her
    will suggest an alternative.”                                                           laptop, connected to the internet and within a few minutes had found the answer for
                                                                                            herself from the official website of the Stockholm Convention.
    Before father could say anything, grandfather was with us again. He had calmed
    down a bit; now he was in an ordering mood. “Something is wrong, very wrong.            •	   The	Stockholm	Convention	on	Persistent	Organic	Pollutants	(POP)	is	a	global	
    This pesticide has been available in India for 40 years, now all of a sudden, why            treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain
    is there this hue and cry? My sense tells me Endosulfan is being targeted. I want            intact in the environment for long periods and have adverse effects to human
    to know why. Find out, investigate what is going on; put your education to good              health or the environment.
    use and get us the truth!”
                                                                                            •	   It	was	adopted	in	2001	and	entered	into	force	in	2004.	
    Good Lord! How did I get caught in this Endosulfan controversy! As if I had nothing
    better to do! Anyway, who did grandfather think I was? Being his grandson was           •	   172	countries	including	India	are	parties	to	the	Convention.	
    tough enough, now he wanted me to become a detective as well and carry out an

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     •	   It	requires	parties	to	take	measures	to	eliminate	or	reduce	the	                 I was impressed. This girl was smart. And she was quick. The laptop was put away in
          release of POPs into the environment.                                            the bag and out came a diary. She passed it to me and told me to write Satyameva
                                                                                           Jayate, Truth shall prevail, on top of a blank page. I kept looking at her, this wonderful
     •	   Some	countries	including	the	United	States	of	America,	Israel	and	Russia	have	   girl who had agreed to be my life partner. But right now she wanted to be my
          not ratified the Convention. This means that they have neither accepted nor      investigation partner. And who was I to argue with that!
          approved the Convention.
                                                                                           Where to begin the investigation? Time was short. The Conference of Parties of the
     •	   The	procedure	for	declaring	a	chemical	as	a	POP	takes	place	in	stages.	          Stockholm Convention was due to meet in April 2011 to decide the fate of Endosulfan.
          The main stages are:                                                             We had to work fast. I told Parvati that I would go to the agricultural university;
                                                                                           find out what made Endosulfan so valuable to farmers. In the meantime, Parvati
     A party makes a submission to the Stockholm Convention that a specific chemical       should explore the business angle: Who the global market leaders were; when the
     (pesticide)	be	considered	as	a	POP.	                                                  product was invented, by whom and so on...I told her that it was imperative that she
                                                                                           cross check and verify each and every fact. There could not be a single error...Parvati let
     The	POP	Review	Committee	(POPRC)	reviews	the	submission	and	decides	on	the	basis	     me finish my lecture and then told me that she expected the same attention to detail
     of scientific data whether or not to recommend the chemical for listing as a POP.     from me as well. So much for my being the boss!

     The decision to accept or reject the recommendation is taken by the Conference of     The visit to the agricultural university was an eye-opener. An eminent scientist-
     Parties. This Conference comprises the 172 parties to the Convention.                 professor had graciously agreed to spend time with me. This is how he started:

                                                                                           •	   A	typical	Indian	farmer	is	a	small,	marginal	farmer. His land holding is 1 to 5
                                                                                                hectares; there are also thousands of farmers with even smaller holdings, as small
                                                                                                as 0.4 acres. For the vast majority of Indian farmers, agriculture is not a business;
                                                                                                it is sustenance farming – a way to feed their families and earn a livelihood
                                                                                                through hard, physical labour.

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     •	   Money	is	required	for	tillage,	irrigation,	fertilizers,	farm	labour	and	so	on.	And	       •	   Another	important	point:	Small	acre	farming	is	very	physical	and	manual.	For	
          money is always short. That is why farmer debt is so widespread. What further                  example, a farmer walks his field, carrying a 15 litre backpack sprayer. With his
          complicates a farmer’s life is that even after spending money, the results are never           own hands and eyes, he checks whether insects have come into the field and
          certain, because of factors that are out of his control, such as the weather. Just a           what those insects are. If they are harmful insects, then and only then, he will use
          few rain showers at an inopportune time can destroy his entire crop.                           a pesticide. On the other hand, if he sees beneficial insects or a beehive in the
                                                                                                         vicinity, he will not spray.
     •	   Another	factor	that	can	bring	an	end	to	all	his	hard	work	is	pests.	
                                                                                                         We often hear irresponsible and unfair remarks made about uncontrolled use of
          If a farmer does not manage pests, the money that he has spent on all                          pesticides in India. So before anything else, let me tell you that the Indian farmer
          other inputs will go to waste as the pests will destroy his crop.                              uses pesticides frugally and responsibly. To underline my point, take a look at
                                                                                                         these global consumption figures which I found in a report by Phillips McDougall
          And mind you, most of India has a hot and humid climate – pests simply thrive                  for the year 2008:
          and multiply in such a climate! So they have to be managed. The farmer has
          no choice!                                                                                     In 2008, the global pesticides market was US $ 40 billion. In Indian rupees this
                                                                                                         amounts to Rs. 180,000 crores.
          So for a farmer, pesticides are a necessity. They are crop protection products that
          he needs to safeguard his farm-investments and in turn secure his livelihood.             	    Farmers	in	USA	used	pesticides	worth	US	$	6.5	billion	(Rs.	29,200	crores).

          But this does not mean that a farmer uses pesticides irresponsibly. In India, sheer       	    Farmers	in	Germany	used	pesticides	worth	US	$	2	billion	(Rs.	9,000	crores).	
          economics prevents this. Pesticides are not handed out free; a farmer has to pay
          for each and every litre of pesticide that he uses. So, his pesticide use is frugal, he   	    Farmers	in	India	used	pesticides	worth	Rs	US	$	1	billion	(Rs.	4,500	crores).	
          sprays only when absolutely necessary.

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         This comes to only 2.5% of world consumption.                                         wondering whether our farmers were even aware of this mighty achievement. And
                                                                                               what	have	we,	the	rest	of	us	done	to	recognize	and	acknowledge	it?	Our	food	security	
         And yet, with comparatively so little pesticide consumption, India ranks              lies in their hands, but we just take them for granted. And they go about their work,
         Number 2 in food production in the world.                                             bent over their crops, day in and day out, just to make ends meet. Their struggle does
                                                                                               not diminish.
         Here is some more data that shows that crop protection usage is very low in India
         as compared to other parts of the world.                                              One track in my mind was stuck on the unfairness of the equation between farmers
                                                                                               and food production. On another track were questions pertaining to beehives and
         Worldwide, over 16,000 pesticide formulations based on 1055 active ingredients        honeybees. I asked the professor, what was so special about honeybees?
         are used. This is as per the Crop Protection Handbook, 2010.                          Why would a farmer not spray near a beehive?

         In India, a little over 400 formulations based on 228 active ingredients are used.    •	   The	honeybee	is	precious	to	farmers because its function is to pollinate the
         This information can be found on the Central Insecticide Board website.                    flowers, that is, to move pollen from the male flower to the female flower and in
                                                                                                    this	way	to	unite	the	male	and	female	so	that	fertilization	can	take	place.	Once	
     The scientist-professor had got my attention. This point of frugal use of pesticides by        this union takes place, the flower goes on to bear fruit. If the union does not take
     the Indian farmer was an important one. Many times developing countries are blamed             place,	there	is	no	fertilization,	no	fruit	and	a	farmer	has	no	crop.	
     for being the major culprits in degrading the environment.
     As far as pesticides are concerned, this certainly is not the case.                       •	   So	pollination	is	as	important	to	crop	cultivation	as	sunlight	and	rain.	And	it is
                                                                                                    the honeybees that help pollination to take place. In India, out of 160 million
     I was also surprised to learn that it is our Indian farmers who feed most of the world;        hectares of land under crop cultivation, 55 million hectares grow crops that
     we rank second in food production; which is a great achievement. But still our farmers         depend upon bees and other insects for pollination, said the professor referring to
     remain poor; they do not enjoy the fruits of their own achievement. I couldn’t help            a report obtained from CSK HP Krishi Vishvavidyalaya in Himachal Pradesh.

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          So now you see how vitally important honeybees are to the Indian farmer. He                 honeybees. This is the unique chemistry of Endosulfan. This is the reason
          loves this gift of nature, because without honeybees, he might as well stop                 why Endosulfan and no other insecticide is recommended for use as the first
          farming.                                                                                    spray during the flowering stage by agricultural scientists and entomologists
     Suddenly, from God knows where, a childhood memory surfaced: some relatives who
     were visiting had seen the droves of honeybees and said... “Wah, wah, gor maharaj are       •	   Wherever	alternatives	have	been	used	there	have	been	reports	of	worker	bees	
     gracing your fields!” Now I knew why they had said that. Just as the maharaj, the priest,        from the beehives disappearing and even whole bee colonies vanishing abruptly.
     joins the bride and the bridegroom in matrimony, in the same way, the honeybee                   This does not happen with Endosulfan. This insecticide allows the farmer to
     is the maharaj of the flowers, joining the male and female flower, to create the fruit!          protect the honeybees and at the same time targets harmful pests.
     What a wonderful way to refer to these helpful insects, or what the professor called
     pollinators.                                                                                •	   Another	species	that	the	farmers	depend	upon	are	the	beneficial	insects	such	as	
                                                                                                      ladybird beetle, chrysoperla, trichograma. We call them beneficials because they
     My knowledge was growing by the minute. The relationship between honeybees,                      eat harmful insects that destroy crops.
     pollination and food production had become very clear. But I wanted to know
     about Endosulfan. The professor must have read my mind for at that very instant he          •	   Endosulfan	is	friendly	to	beneficials	as	well. This is also very important.
     launched fully and squarely into the heart of the matter:                                        Because as long as there are sufficient numbers of beneficials in the field which
                                                                                                      destroy the harmful pests, the farmer does not have to use any pesticide, or use
     •	   Pollinators	and	pests	appear	at	the	same	time.	So,	the	challenge	for	the	farmer	is	         only the minimum amount of pesticide. This too is a great saving for the Indian
          to manage pests and yet at the same time ensure that honeybees are not affected             farmer.
          and that they continue to do their job of pollination.
                                                                                                 •	   What	is	more,	Endosulfan	is	inexpensive	because	it	is	a	generic	pesticide,	that	
     •	   Endosulfan	is	the	only	known	insecticide	that	is	honeybee	friendly.	Being	                  is, any producer anywhere in the world can produce it. A patented pesticide is
          generic, it is also affordable. It targets harmful pests, but it does not destroy           always much more expensive because the company that has invented it holds a
                                                                                                      monopoly on it and hence can sell it at whatever price it wants.

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     I made a note of all this.                                                                    As I left the university, it was my father who filled my thoughts. What must he have
                                                                                                   felt like when I did not show any interest in farming, a tradition that had been in our
             Generic = less expensive                                                              family for generations? Did he have dreams that one day I would attend an agricultural
             Patented = more expensive                                                             university and learn the science and technology of agriculture?

             Generic = more suppliers                                                              When I met Parvati, I was ready with all the points pertaining to the relevance of
             Patented = monopoly, only one supplier                                                Endosulfan. I had even made a little chart in my notebook:

     So much of farming is linked to economics, I thought to myself. I had learnt a lot.
     Endosulfan is generic. It is affordable. It is safe to honeybees and beneficials. But on
     how many crops can Endosulfan be used? I put this question to the professor…                       Relevance of Endosulfan
     •	   Endosulfan is a broad spectrum insecticide: it is effective against no less than         •	   Effective	on	a	range	of	pests	and	in	a	variety	of	crops
          60 pests and over a large number of crops including fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee,
          spices, flowers, and also for non food crops such as cotton and jute. This means         •	   Affordable:	Less	than	Rs.	286	per	litre	
          that the farmer does not have to spend additional money to buy a variety of                   (Alternatives	cost	atleast	ten	times	more)
          pesticides to take care of the different pests that different crops are vulnerable to.
                                                                                                   •	   Safe	to	pollinators,	that	is,	honeybees
     •	   Another important point: There are many pesticides to which pests develop
          resistance over a period of time. This decreases the efficacy of pesticides and          •	   Safe	to	beneficial	insects
          farmers have to use progressively more and more amounts in order to destroy the
          pests. This means that the farmer has to spend more and more money. However,             •	   Avoids	resistance	
          this is not the case with Endosulfan. Pests do not develop resistance to it. So
          farmers do not have to spend extra money.

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     I had saved one interesting and important fact for last. I read out the professor’s          •	   Chemicals are the second largest traded merchandise in the world,
     exact words:                                                                                      next only to oil.

     •	   In	addition	to	its	agricultural	use,	Endosulfan	has	since	2006	been	allowed	in	the	     •	   Agro-chemicals,	that	is,	pesticides	are	a	very	big	global	business.
          USA as a veterinary insecticide for use as ear tags for lactating cows and cattle for
          control of ecto parasites. This shows that it is safe for use even on animals.          •	   In	2008,	the	global pesticides market was US $ 40 billion or Rs. 180,000 crores.

     Parvati had listened intently but when I finished, there was not one word of praise          •	   Out of this, the top three companies, all of them European, accounted
     from her. I wanted to protest, but didn’t get half a chance; she immediately launched             for US $ 20 billion (Rs. 90,000 crores). This works out to 50% of the global
     into her own presentation. I had never seen her like this, all solemn and business-like,          market.
     speaking with such clarity and confidence, as if she were delivering a scholarly paper
     at a conference...                                                                           •	   Endosulfan is the third largest, generic pesticide in use worldwide, with a
                                                                                                       global sale of US $ 300 million. (Rs. 1350 crores). Over 40 million litres are used
                                                                                                       globally every year.

                                                                                                  •	   For	more	than	50	years,	a	European	multinational	was	the	leader	in	the	
                                                                                                       manufacture and sale of this pesticide.

                                                                                                  Now, why was Parvati telling me all this? Of course, I knew that Europe has a big stake
                                                                                                  in pesticide business. She saw that I was getting restless. That girl can read me like a
                                                                                                  book! She gave me a long hard stare as she continued with the journey of Endosulfan
                                                                                                  in Europe:

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     In 2001, the European multinational decided to phase out Endosulfan.                    And again, in 2010, European manufacturer stopped selling Endosulfan and in the
                                                                                             same year, the POPRC recommended Endosulfan for listing as a POP.
     In 2005, the European Commission stopped its 27 member countries from using
     Endosulfan.                                                                             The sequence of events did strike me as being significant. Were these just coincidences
                                                                                             or was there more to it? Parvati told me to hold on, there were even more significant
     In 2007, the European multinational stopped manufacturing Endosulfan,                   revelations that she wanted to share...
     but continued to sell it.
                                                                                             •	   Yes,	it	is	true	that	the	European	multinational	was	the	world’s	leader	and	the	
     In the same year – 2007 – the European Commission made a submission to the                   largest producer and exporter of Endosulfan.
     Stockholm Convention recommending the consideration of Endosulfan as a Persistent
     Organic	Pollutant	(POP).	                                                               •	   But	in	the	past	ten	years	or	so,	another	country	has	taken	away	an	extremely	large	
                                                                                                  share of the European multinational’s Endosulfan market.
     The European multinational also announced that it would stop selling Endosulfan
     by the end of 2010.                                                                     •	   Which	is	this	country	that	has	given	such	a	takkar to the European multinational?

     In October 2010, at the Stockholm Convention, the POPRC recommended that                •	   It	is	our	country.	India	has	emerged	as	the	world’s	largest	producer	and	
     Endosulfan be listed as a POP.                                                               exporter of Endosulfan with a 70% share of the global market.

     “Wait a minute!” I told Parvati. I wanted to examine these coincidences: The European   •	   The	European	multinational	has	lost	its	No	1	position	and	with	it	a	significant	
     multinational stopped manufacturing Endosulfan in 2007 and in that very same year,           portion of its profits.
     the European Commission started the process of getting Endosulfan banned.

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     I could not help feeling a sense of pride at India’s industrial might. Imagine competing    The European multinational has already produced replacements for Endosulfan.
     with a world leader and emerging the winner!
                                                                                                 But unlike Endosulfan which is an affordable pesticide, the alternatives are five to ten
     And what a huge setback this must have been not only for the European multinational         times costlier than Endosulfan as this table shows...
     but also for the European agro-chemical industry as a whole which has dominated the
     world market for over 50 years!

     Then it struck me:

     Could the real reason for wanting to ban Endosulfan be that it was no longer
     profitable	for	the	European	multinational	to	produce	this	generic	chemical?	

     If Endosulfan got banned, then in one shot, the competition would get
     wiped out. More importantly, a large, a very large space would open up for a

     If this were true, then grandfather was right. Something devious was going on. But
     I wanted to keep an open mind, I did not want to jump to conclusions; this was a
     serious investigation, so I kept these thoughts to myself and told Parvati to continue...

                                                                                                   None of the above alternatives to Endosulfan are safe to

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     I took my time to study the table. Calmly, dispassionately as I have been trained to do.   But this was different. This trade war went beyond business empires; it was going to
                                                                                                ruin a whole section of people – the small and marginal farmers – who had nothing
     Parvati was right. The alternatives were indeed very costly as compared to                 whatsoever to do with manufacturing and selling. This is what made this trade war
     Endosulfan. And, none of them were bee-safe products.                                      even more unjust.

     Now, it all made sense. The facts and figures that Parvati had gathered left no doubt in   What is more, Europe was calling for a ban but its most devastating impact was not
     my mind. I was convinced that:                                                             going to be felt by European farmers. The ones that would lose out the most would be
                                                                                                the farmers in poor, developing countries. Why? Because, first of all, insect-pests are
     The	Europeans	were	fighting	a	trade	war.	Their	plan	was	simple:                            not as much of a problem in cold countries as they are in hot, humid countries. We, in
                                                                                                India need affordable pesticides to control pests, otherwise entire crops get destroyed
     •	   Stop	manufacturing	the	low	cost	Endosulfan.                                           and farmers get ruined. Secondly, farmers in rich countries of Europe can afford the
                                                                                                five-to-ten-times-more-expensive-than-Endosulfan replacements. But millions of
     •	   Ensure	that	no	one	else	produces	Endosulfan	by	campaigning	for	a	ban	against	it.      our small and marginal farmers simply cannot. They are already under grave financial
                                                                                                strain; any additional burden will simply wipe them out.
          At the same time,
                                                                                                We sat quietly for sometime. It was as if we were mourning for millions of our farmers.
     •	   Produce	and	promote	alternatives	that	are	much	more	expensive.	
                                                                                                “Exactly how many millions are we talking about?” I asked Parvati. Out came her laptop
                                                                                                computer and within a minute she had the answer: As per the Census of 2001, there
     Of course, I knew that trade wars were not an uncommon occurrence. One business
                                                                                                are 250 million agricultural workers in India. I wondered how many were even
     empire fighting against another occurred often enough, within a country and across
                                                                                                aware of the sword hanging over their heads.

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     I made a silent promise to my father and grandfather that come what may,                          We were back at our icecream parlour. I was dying to tell Parvati what I had discovered,
     I would complete my investigation; I would bring home the truth.                                  but first I reminded her that in 2005 the European Union had stopped its 27 member
                                                                                                       countries which included Italy from using Endosulfan. However, in 2008, despite the
     Parvati’s excited voice broke the silence:                                                        ban, the Italian Ministry of Health and other departments had jointly issued an order
                                                                                                       allowing	Endosulfan	to	be	used	for	120	days	to	save	Italy’s	hazelnut	crop	which	was	
     •	   If	the	European	Commission	had	ordered	its	member	countries	to	stop	using	                   being	attacked	by	weevils	(Curculio	Nucum).		
          Endosulfan as early as 2005, why did the European multinational continue to sell
          it to the rest of world the till 2010?                                                       Parvati asked me again and again whether what I had just stated was really true. I told
                                                                                                       her it was true indeed; if she wanted to see a copy of the Italian order issued in Rome
     •	   If	they	really	thought	it	was	harmful,	wouldn’t	the	right	and	moral	thing	have	              on 7th April 2008, I would show it to her right away on my laptop computer.
          been to stop selling it altogether? How can there be one policy for Europe and
          another policy for non-European countries?                                                   Parvati was thinking aloud, fast and furious:

     I	was	amazed	at	the	clarity	of	this	girl	sitting	in	front	of	me.	I	wanted	to	tell	her	that	she	   •	    Surely	the	Italian	government	would	not	have	issued	such	an	order	if	it	really	
     should have been a lawyer. She was certainly arguing like one.                                          believed that Endosulfan was harmful to health. The Italian government would
                                                                                                             not risk the lives of its citizens to save a hazelnut crop.
     That night, I attacked the internet once again. I was hoping the answer to Parvati’s
     question	was	somewhere	out	there	in	cyber	space.	I	did	not	realize	when	the	darkness	             •	    This	clearly	shows	that	Endosulfan	is	not	hazardous	to	health.	It	also	
     outside my window gave way to dawn, till the chirping of the birds announced the                        indicates that the alternatives must not have been effective, otherwise why
     new day. I had found some information that I thought was vital to our investigation                     would the Italian government bring back Endosulfan which it had stopped using
     and I could not wait for evening to come...                                                             as per the European Commission’s directive?

28                                                                                                     Italian order permitting re-use of endosulfan after its ban in Europe on Page No. 62      29
                                                                                                       English translation on Page No. 63
     We were certainly drawing a lot of attention, what with Parvati thumping the table         That none of us workers have faced any adverse effects whatsoever
     from time to time; her icecream had melted a long time ago... I looked around for our      completely destroys the credibility of the studies that claim that Endosulfan
     server, when I noticed a gentleman, he could not have been more than 30-35 and he          is harmful. One such study was conducted by the National Institute of
     was coming straight to our table. Without any unnecessary chit-chat, he told us that       Occupational	Health	(NIOH).	Its	findings	are	totally	false.	And	yet,	this	flawed	
     he had heard us using the word Endosulfan over and over again and since he was a           study has been used as evidence to push for the listing of Endosulfan as a
     worker at an Endosulfan plant, he was eager to find out what we were talking about.        Persistent Organic Pollutant at the Stockholm Convention.

     We told him about our investigation. Then he started. The way he spoke, it felt as if he   We, the workers of the Endosulfan plant wanted to stand up against such
     was not speaking for himself but on behalf of the entire workforce...                      falsehood. That is why we took out a silent rally. About 10,000 men, women and
                                                                                                children walked in a dignified manner along a two and a half kilometer route that
     •	   You	may	have	read	reports	in	the	media	that	make	mention	of	studies	that	claim	       started at the municipal school ground and ended at the District Collector’s office
          that Endosulfan is harmful to health. Let me tell you this – our Endosulfan plant     where we submitted a memorandum to the Collector demanding the withdrawal
          was started in 1980. For more than 30 years, over 3,000 people in this plant alone    of the NIOH report.
          have handled this chemical.
                                                                                                You don’t have to take my word about the NIOH report. Our Union has a
     	    We	workers	are	the	first	point	of	exposure,	because	we	handle	Endosulfan	in	          document that disproves the case made against Endosulfan by NIOH. I will ask
          a	very	concentrated	form.	If	Endosulfan	was	harmful,	we	would	be	the	first	           our Union leader to send it to you. Read the document carefully, study it and then
          ones	whose	health	would	be	endangered.	But	no	ill	effects	have	befallen	any	          draw your own conclusions.
          of us, our children or grandchildren. I have been here for 14 years, but there
          are many workers much more senior to me, who have handled Endosulfan for 25           But this I will say -- the experience of us Endosulfan workers must be taken
          years and more.                                                                       into account at the Stockholm Convention. We are the ones who are in closest
                                                                                                proximity to Endosulfan. Our health records have shown that there are no

30                                                                                                                                                                                  31
         residues of Endosulfan in our blood. Our blood has been tested to check for         We paid our bill, gathered our things and were stepping out of the icecream parlour
         Endosulfan residues by reputed internationally recognised GLP laboratories.         when we saw our newly-made friend running towards us, holding out a piece of paper.
         This has been done not just once, but every two years for the last six years.       When he got his breath back, he told us, we should definitely talk to the person whose
         All these tests have not detected any Endosulfan residues in our blood. My          name was written on it. He was the Director of International Stewardship Centre Inc.
         question is: why are these health reports not taken into account?
                                                                                             Now what was I going to do with this Director? Or the International Stewardship
     There was pin drop silence when our friend finished.                                    Centre? I needed help about the Stockholm Convention.

     Before we could ask him anything more his toddler son came up to our table. His         That night as I sat surfing the internet, I checked out on International Stewardship
     wife signaled that they should leave. We thanked our friend but he would not hear       Centre. Our worker friend had taken so much trouble, this is the least I could do. I
     of it. It was his duty, he said, to let as many people know what the truth really is.   found	out	that	it	is	a	non-profit	organization	created	to	educate	and	promote	safety	
                                                                                             in all aspects related to chemical substances. This did not appear to be of much help.
     It was so very inspiring to hear our worker friend speak. His testimony was a major     One minute! What is this… oh my God! They are also observers at the Stockholm
     milestone in our journey to the truth. But, there was so much more that needed to       Convention! Their Director has attended many of their meetings and has closely
     be investigated. We had to find out more about the Stockholm Convention, who            followed the developments. I could not believe this!
     those people were, and what they had found about Endosulfan that made them call
     for a ban. Another issue that worried me was the report about the Kasargod incident     It is at times like this when help comes out of the blue, that I think of God. I know it
     that blamed Endosulfan for causing birth defects and so on. How could such a report     should not be this way. As grandfather says: “He should be in our every breath and our
     have come about? What was going on in Kerala?                                           every step.” But grandfather is grandfather...

     I did not know where to turn or whom to ask for help and guidance. Time was             I requested a meeting with the Director of the International Stewardship Centre to
     running out. The Stockholm Convention was scheduled to take a decision regarding        learn more about the Stockholm Convention.
     banning or not banning Endosulfan in April 2011. What if, we could not find the
     answers before then? How would I face my father and grandfather?

32                                                                                                                                                                                    33
     From the moment I presented myself at his office, the Director gave me his full      Let’s talk about persistence. The term persistence refers to the length of time a
     attention. I did not want to waste his time so I got straight to my first concern,   pesticide takes to degrade in the soil. It is measured by way of half life, that is, the
     which was:                                                                           number of days it takes for half of the pesticide in the soil to degrade after which it
                                                                                          loses its efficacy. Any pesticide with half life of more than 180 days is considered to be
     •	   The	live	testimony	of	the	Endosulfan	workers	and	the	farmers	in	India	is	       persistent.
          that Endosulfan is not harmful to health.
                                                                                          How fast a pesticide degrades in the soil is dependent on factors such as soil type and
          On the other hand, the Stockholm Convention considers Endosulfan to             environmental conditions; temperature and moisture play a crucial role.
          be so harmful that it has recommended that the pesticide be banned.
                                                                                          Coming to Endosulfan: there are several scientific reports that indicate that under
          Could the Director share with me, scientific data on the basis of which the     tropical conditions, Endosulfan degrades rather fast and the half life is typically
          Stockholm Convention had taken such a serious step.                             between 20 to 70 days. This is far below the 180 day half life criteria to determine
                                                                                          whether a chemical is persistent.
     The Director was swift with his answer:
                                                                                          However, the POPRC chose to take into account a study done in a colder climatic
     A committee called the POPRC meets to decide whether a chemical can be               region which showed half life in excess of 180 days.
     recommended for listing as a POP. There are four criteria by which a chemical
     is judged in order to recommend it as a POP. They are:                               Clearly, this was not representative of what the data on soil persistence was in most
                                                                                          parts of the world and it was apparent that this study was chosen so that Endosulfan
     •	   Persistence	
                                                                                          could be shown as persistent.
     •	   Bioaccumulation
                                                                                          “But didn’t anyone protest?” I asked the Director.
     •	   Long	range	transport

     •	   Adverse	effect	on	human	health

34                                                                                                                                                                                     35
     “Of course there were protests, from a small number of countries including India,”         One of the rules governing the Stockholm Convention states that all substantive
     the Director informed me. As an observer in many of the meetings of the POPRC, the         decisions have to be taken by consensus. This means that all members have to
     Director had himself witnessed how the meetings were conducted. In his own words:          unanimously agree before a major decision is taken.

     It has been my observation that any information that is not in favour of POP listing       Consensus is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that the decision taken is fair to
     is tactfully ignored. While reviewing Endosulfan, studies that support POP listing         all countries including minority countries, that is, those countries who view an issue
     were considered and decisions were taken despite significant data gaps. How can an         differently from other countries. The minority countries have to be convinced about
     informed decision as regards listing a chemical as a POP be taken when such gaps           the issue before a decision is taken and this can only happen through the practice of
     exist? This is the first of my concerns.                                                   consensus.

     It took me some time to absorb what the Director was saying. All this was a little         Unfortunately, all decisions pertaining to Endosulfan have not been taken by
     technical, so I asked a lot of questions to make sure I had understood everything          consensus.
     properly. What I concluded was that the POPRC wanted Endosulfan banned, that was
     all that they were concerned about, the data that supported the ban was accepted           Instead, decisions have been taken by voting. This is against the rule. And it is very
     and data that did not support the ban was ignored; thus creating the scientific gaps       unfair. Voting does not allow the voice of the minority countries to be factored into the
     that the Director was talking about.                                                       decision-making process. Instead, the majority countries, simply by virtue of being the
                                                                                                majority are able to push through their agenda. It is a case of might is right. The side
     The Director had mentioned that the scientific data gaps were the first of his concerns.   which has more numbers wins the day.
     Meaning, he had other concerns as well. Of course, a sharp investigative mind like
     mine had picked up that point and of course I had to ask him about it. “Yes, I do have     This is exactly what has happened in the case of Endosulfan.
     another concern.” began the Director...
                                                                                                The Director did not have to spell it out. I already knew who the mighty were and what
                                                                                                their	real	agenda	was.	The	meeting	with	the	Director	had	made	me	realize	how	the	

36                                                                                                                                                                                        37
     mighty were driving the decisions, that is, how they were subtly getting their way at        Fact
     the Stockholm Convention.                                                                    Plantation	Corporation	of	Kerala	had	been	seasonally	spraying	Endosulfan	(once	or	
                                                                                                  twice	a	year)	in	their	cashew	plantation	in	the	districts	of	Kasargod	and	Palghat	in	
     I remembered another fact that Parvati had told me earlier which was that almost             Kerala from 1980 to 2000 for control of a major pest called tea mosquito bug.
     all the chemicals that have been listed as POP have been on the basis of
     submissions made by the European Union. She had also told me that all of them                In February 2001, CSE released to the media a report based on a study that it had
     were generic chemicals. Not a single chemical was recommended for POP listing                conducted in Kasargod district of Kerala. The study claimed to have found “alarming
     while	it	was	under	‘patent	protection’. This fact struck me as being very significant.       levels of Endosulfan residues” in water and human blood samples taken from Padre
                                                                                                  village in Kasargod district. It also claimed that the “alarming levels” of Endosulfan were
     I did not want to waste any more of the Director’s time, so I thanked him, shook his         causing several health problems including cancer and birth defects.
     hand and was almost at the door, when suddenly, something made me ask, “About
     the articles that have appeared in the newspapers. What are your thoughts on that?”          Coincidentally, 2001, the year in which this study was conducted was also the same
     I described the one that my father had shown me on Republic Day and how my                   year in which the European multinational decided to phase out Endosulfan, a pesticide
     grandfather had been shaken to the core upon reading it.                                     it had produced and exported worldwide without any adverse effects for 50 years.

     The Director asked if I had read the Kasargod study conducted by the Centre for              Fact
     Science	and	Environment	(CSE)	upon	which	the	newspaper	article	was	based.	“No,	              The claim of the CSE study regarding “alarming levels of Endosulfan” is scientifically
     I had not read the study. People like me, ordinary people that is, don’t read scientific     incorrect.
     studies. We go by what we read in the newspapers.”
                                                                                                  Here are just two examples that prove the falseness of the CSE report:
     The Director beckoned that I sit down once again. I told him I was taking up too much
     of his time. He told me not to worry about that. And then he began. Fact for fact, this is
     what he said:

38                                                                                                                                                                                         39
     CSE Claim                                                                                 Fact
     Endosulfan	residues	of	9.19	ppm	(parts	per	million)	were	found	in	filtered	water	         Several expert committees have been appointed by the Government of India to
     samples taken from Padre village.                                                         determine whether Endosulfan was the cause of health problems in Padre village
                                                                                               of Kasargod district. All these committees have concluded that there is no link
     Scientific truth                                                                          whatsoever between the use of Endosulfan and the reported health problems.
     Endosulfan’s water solubility is 0.33 ppm. This means that this is the maximum amount
     of Endosulfan that can be dissolved in water. CSE’s claim of 9.19 ppm is scientifically   Fact
     implausible. It completely violates the basic and fundamental principles of chemistry.    According	to	information	obtained	from	international	organizations,	Endosulfan	
     This is therefore a false claim.                                                          is	non-carcinogenic,	that	is,	it	does	not	cause	cancer.	These	organizations	include	
                                                                                               the	WHO	(World	Health	Organization),	FAO	(Food	&	Agriculture	Organization),	
     CSE Claim                                                                                 IARC	(International	Agency	for	Research	on	Cancer),	and	the	US	EPA	(United	States	
     115.19 ppm of Endosulfan residues were detected in the blood sample of Dr. Mohan          Environmental	Protection	Agency).	
     Kumar, an activist associated with Pesticides Action Network.
     Scientific truth                                                                          Ignoring the observations of the expert scientific committees as well as the
     0.86 ppm is the lethal concentration of Endosulfan in human blood.                        observations of scientific bodies such as the WHO, the CSE and a small group of
                                                                                               environmental NGOs got together to create a pressure group to ban Endosulfan.
     This concentration and anything more than this would mean that the person would           The scientifically incorrect CSE study became part of a systematic and aggressive
     not survive. No human being can carry 115.19 ppm of Endosulfan residues and still be      campaign to create negative public opinion regarding Endosulfan.
                                                                                               As a consequence of this campaign, the National Research Centre for Cashew
     When challenged, neither Dr. Mohan Kumar nor CSE could explain these unscientific         recommended that Endosulfan should not be used for cashew cultivation in Kerala.
     laboratory findings.                                                                      Thereafter, because of public pressure, the Kerala government suspended the use of
                                                                                               Endosulfan all over the state.

40   Scientifically incorrect CSE study funded by EU on Page No.. 66                                                                                                                  41
     I left the Director’s office feeling very shameful. How could our own people, use a         incidents reported from certain villages in Kasargod district, no conclusive evidence
     scientifically incorrect report in this manner to malign Endosulfan? What was really        has been produced to show that the diseases were linked to Endosulfan and nothing
     going on in Kerala? Some of the pictures that we have seen in the anti-Endosulfan           else. An independent study demonstrates that the symptoms in reported cases
     reports did indicate that there were health problems. If Endosulfan was not causing         correspond to those of handi godu (a disease) attributed to chronic inbreeding in
     them, then what was?                                                                        the region.”

     While I was waiting for Parvati, I opened my laptop. Surely someone must have asked         The second article, a full page one, had appeared in the Indian Express, New Delhi and
     the same question: What was going on in Kerala? Just then, Parvati arrived, all huffing     Mumbai editions, dated January 30, 2011. The article was titled Kerala’s Pesticide Puzzle
     and puffing. She was late but there was good reason for that, she said, as she handed       and the subtitle read ... “Shaju Philips travels to Kasargod and finds that there is little
     over two newspaper articles and a map to me. She would not sit down. She said she           evidence	to	link	these	diseases	(congenital	and	infertility	problems)	with	Endosulfan”.	
     would be back in a little while. In the meantime, she wanted me to read the articles
     carefully, especially the portions that were highlighted in yellow.                         The following is a direct quote from the article:

     My God! My Parvati was turning out to be quite an investigator! Here were two articles      “....Jagadeesh, 40, from a village under the Enmakaje panchayat, is an Endosulfan
     in two different newspapers written by two different journalists; both the articles         victim in government records – diagnosed with mental retardation and epilepsy.
     pointed to the fact that there was a history of congenital problems in Kasargod and in      He	was	born	in	1970,	at	least	10	years	before	the	first	spraying	of	Endosulfan	
     the adjoining areas of South Canara district of Karnataka. Long before Endosulfan or        and even before the trial run began in 1977-78. That he wasn’t enrolled in primary
     any other pesticide was ever sprayed, these areas had children with birth defects.          school at the age of six indicates his congenital problems preceded the spraying.
                                                                                                 His four younger siblings are all married with children who are in good health.
     In an article entitled Proxy Battle Over Endosulfan published in The Hindu, Business Line   Jagadeesh was first taken for treatment only 15 years ago, when the Endosulfan issue
     newspaper dated 9 February 2011, Shri Sharad Joshi, who is the Founder of Shetkari          erupted.”
     Sanghatana and a former Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, has written ... “In the
                                                                                                 Goodness gracious! So there were health problems in Kasargod, but they did not
                                                                                                 have anything to do with Endosulfan; they existed long before Endosulfan was

42                                                                                                                                                                                         43
     ever sprayed! Could this be the reason why the CSE study was conducted in
     Kasargod? If so, the spraying of Endosulfan over the cashew plantation was exactly
     what these people needed to make a scapegoat out of Endosulfan and link it to the
     already existing health problems. What devious minds! Shame on them!

     As soon as I said this to myself, I felt a bit bad. I did not want to jump to conclusions.
     The evidence was staring me in the face, but still, I wanted to exercise caution. My eye
     fell on the map. It was the map of India. I put it aside; this Parvati was too much, was
     she now going to give me a geography lesson as well?!

     And so I waited. It did not feel nice to have the icecream without her. But she was
     taking so long! I looked at the map once again; this time I looked properly; it was a
     map showing the state-wise consumption of Endosulfan.

     The states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh ranked highest in

44                                                                                                45
     the use of Endosulfan. What about Kerala? Why is it that the usage in other states was        the preexistence of health problems in Kasargod, was too much for me. I wanted to
     significantly higher? Was it used only in cashew? Could I very quickly find out this          talk to someone about all this. I packed my computer, paid the bill and I was on the
     detail? I opened my laptop, and started the search with the Plantation Corporation            phone with the Director of the International Stewardship Centre. I requested, actually
     of Kerala which had used Endosulfan on its cashew crop. That was how the whole                I should say, I begged for a little more of his time. Something in my voice must have
     controversy had erupted. Thank God, I know my way around the internet; some would             communicated how agitated I was – the Director told me to come over right away.
     even	say	I	am	quite	a	whiz	at	it....Ah!	Here	was	something...		
                                                                                                   The tea that the Director provided was much needed. And what is more, he was
     Goodness gracious, once again! Do you know how much Endosulfan was sprayed by                 attending to some phone call, so I could have my tea in peace.
     the Plantation Corporation over the cashew crop in Kasargod? 300 millilitres per acre!
     Could this be correct? I checked the figure once again. Yes, it was only 300 millilitres      Then, when he was back and I was somewhat restored, I told him how much respect
     per	acre.	This	is	just	a	little	bit	more	than	what	a	standard	size	glass	can	hold!	And	the	   I had for NGOs. They do such incredible work. Our country owes so much to them.
     spraying was done only twice during the year.                                                 I told him that it was a good and noble thing for CSE to be concerned about health and
                                                                                                   the environment but all the evidence that we had gathered indicated that something
     In all only 550 litres were sprayed during the year in Kasargod, Kerala. Maharashtra,         was terribly wrong.
     Andhra	Pradhesh	and	Madhya	Pradesh	were	annually	using	10	lakh	litres	(or	1000	
     kiloliltres)	and	above	and	nothing	adverse	has	ever	been	reported	from	those	states!	         I was full of questions:
     Now, I am not a scientist and I am not a researcher, but even my common sense tells
     me that if I wanted to study the effects of Endosulfan, I would pick a state where there      Why had the CSE conducted the study in Kerala, where there was so little Endosulfan
     was significant use of Endosulfan; I would certainly not pick an area that has such           consumption?
     insignificant use of Endosulfan!
                                                                                                   Why did they ignore the fact that birth defects and other health problems already
     This discovery, coming on top of the evidence given in the newspaper reports about            existed in the area that was studied?

46                                                                                                                                                                                          47
     If it had been pointed out to them that their data was scientifically incorrect, if so      From the financial year 1999-2000 to 2007-2008, CSE received funding close to
     many government committees had said that the health problems in Kasargod were               Rs. 56 crores.
     not linked to Endosulfan – then why were they conducting such an aggressive
     anti-Endosulfan campaign?                                                                   In the period of 2000 to 2006 alone, CSE received Rs. 35.36 crores out of which more
                                                                                                 than Rs. 33 crores were from foreign sources.
     What was their motivation? Was it money?
                                                                                                 •	    In	a	letter	dated	10	May	2010,	the	Head	of	the	Delegation	of	the	European	
     My phone had to ring just then! It was Parvati; she wanted me to talk to her friend’s             Union has stated and I quote... “The European Union did provide funding to
     brother who ran a for farmers. I told Parvati that I was going to be delayed but she              CSE to implement a project on Policy Research and Awareness Creation in the
     insisted that I had to meet the person that very evening, it did not matter how late              Field of Environment health Interface and Development of an Alternative Pollution
     it got.                                                                                           Monitoring System from 2000 to 2006. The objective of this project was to:

     I	apologized	to	the	Director	for	the	interruption.	Then	I	repeated	my	question,	“Could	     1)	 To	sensitize	the	public	to	linkages	between	environmental	degradation	
     money be the reason why CSE was mixed up in all this?”                                          and health;

     The Director looked me straight in the eye and said, “This is a question to which I don’t   2)	 Develop	policy	strategies	in	the	field	of	environmental	health;
     know the answer. I would not even want to speculate. However what I do have are
     some facts:                                                                                 3)	 Catalyze	the	formation	of	a	pressure	group	by	providing	scientific	information	on	
                                                                                                     the health impacts of environmental degradation.
     •	   According	to	information	obtained	through	the	Right	to	Information	Act	from	the	
          Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India…                                         To achieve this objective, CSE conducted various research studies, provided capacity
                                                                                                 building, established a laboratory for monitoring air, water and pesticides pollution in
                                                                                                 the environment and created awareness among various target groups on these issues.

48                                                                                               European Union’s letter confirming funding to CSE on Page No. 64                          49
                                                                                                 Foreign funding: RTI information on Rs. 56 Crores received by CSE on Page No. 65
     Please be informed that...the EU cannot be held responsible for the views expressed           saaman	(things)	he	also	gets	sammaan	(respect).	We	care	for	our	farmers;	we	look	
     by CSE, the results of the study, their correctness or the usage of those results by CSE.”    for ways and means to be of real help to them. For example, we have removed the
                                                                                                   middleman. The farmers therefore get their products at much lower prices.”
     What more evidence did I need! I wanted to hang my head in shame. Do the people
     at CSE and other anti-Endosulfan NGOs ever think about the scope and scale of the             This sounded too good to be true but I believed the manager. He was bright, he was
     devastation that their actions are going to wreak on millions of our farmers? My father       sincere, only one thing -- he talked a lot and that too at full speed! And here he was
     and grandfather filled my mind and heart as I made my way out of the Director’s office.       telling us some more...

     All in all, it had not been a good day. And now this meeting at the farmers mall.             “Yes, I am the manager, but first I am a farmer. Most of the time, I am in the villages,
     God knows what that was going to be like. If I could not find the farmers mall in the         meeting farmers, trying to understand their problems. Whatever knowledge I have,
     next five minutes, Parvati was going to....Ah! Here she was, waiting for me at the            I share with them, and when I don’t know how to solve the problem, I take help from
     entrance of a shop.                                                                           my professor friends at the agricultural universities. Yes, you can say, it is a kind of
                                                                                                   social service, no problem if profits are small; to be of help to farmers, that is the best
     I asked her where the mall was and she pointed to the shop. This 20 ft x 20 ft shop is a      reward. “
     mall! Had Parvati lost her mind?!
                                                                                                   What an afternoon and evening this had turned out to be! From hearing about
     A young man, not much older than me, was the manager of this shop. He immediately             Rs 56 crores in funding to listening to this man say that money is not everything!
     set the record straight.
                                                                                                   I asked him if he knew anything about the Endosulfan controversy. Of course he had!
     “Yes, we do call this shop a mall, but it really is a one-stop shop for the farmers.          In fact, he was full of it...
     We	supply	all	that	a	farmer	needs	--	seeds,	fertilizers	pesticides...	even	ordinary	things	
     like ropes and strings. But what makes us unique is that here, the farmer not only gets

50                                                                                                                                                                                               51
     “Let me tell you this is not the first time they have orchestrated a ban. These              That is just not who we are and how we conduct farming. Let me tell you, without
     Europeans have done the same thing earlier with other pesticides. And they always do         honeybees, the farmers’ eco-system is going to be destroyed and we are going to be
     this with generic pesticides. I have never heard of a pesticide that was banned while        ruined. We might as well commit suicide!”
     it was patented. That would not suit their interests. It is the low cost generic that gets
     banned and is then replaced with an expensive patented product.                              These were strong words. They affected me deeply.

     But not anymore! Many farmer leaders have taken up the cause of the small and                Parvati signalled that she wanted a word in private. She had this bright idea that
     marginal farmer. Some academics and professors of agricultural universities are also         I should meet this professor-turned-farmer-leader. I said I would. But that did not
     joining in. I am meeting one such professor-turned-farmer-leader tomorrow. Actually,         satisfy her.
     I am catching the night train, but don’t worry, I still have some time to talk to you...
                                                                                                  So there I was in the night train. After we managed to get our berths, I thought I
     Let me tell you what this professor told me. The alternative products are destroying         would get some peace and quiet. But no, the manager wanted to tell me more about
     honeybees and other beneficials. In France and Germany where Endosulfan has                  the farmer-leader who came from a family that has been involved in agriculture for
     been substituted by neo-nicotinoids, it has resulted in entire colonies of honeybees         generations. He and many others like him were starting a grassroots movement to
     getting wiped out. In countries where honeybees have been destroyed, farmers are             make Indian farmers aware of what was going on. The manager was lending his full
     now buying boxes of bees, and they are letting these bees loose in their farms so that       support,	taking	on	the	responsibility	of	mobilizing	farmers	that	he	was	in	contact	with.	
     pollination can take place.                                                                  It felt good to hear this. As I closed my eyes, I thanked Parvati for insisting that I forget
                                                                                                  everything and get into the night train. That girl was invariably right!
     But what about us Indian farmers? In addition to dealing with power cuts, rising fuel
     prices, non-availability of water, shortage of labour, how will we cope with the tragedy     The professor-turned-farmer-leader was very busy man; a very focused and
     of paying for very expensive replacement products and on top of that seeing our              determined man. He spoke his mind and on his mind was only one thing – our Indian
     honeybees destroyed? Our farmers will never buy bees.                                        farmers!

52                                                                                                                                                                                           53
     His words really charged me up. This is what he said...                                 Reason 3: The decision to recommend Endosulfan as a POP was made despite
                                                                                                       significant data gaps.
     “So far, we have heard NGO voices and other voices. But the farmers have not spoken.
                                                                                             Reason 4: All POPRC decisions relating to Endosulfan have not been taken by
     This is going to change.                                                                          consensus. This is not in the true spirit of the Stockholm Convention.

     We need to organise rallies in different states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal,    The final decision of the Stockholm Convention is due in April 2011.
     Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar...
     One, two, even ten farmers speaking out against the injustice may not be enough.        We have to act fast. Now is our last chance!
     Thousands of farmers need to congregate, stand as one and tell the world to listen to
     the voice of 250 million farmers of India!                                              If we don’t,	farmers	will	be	the	first	casualties.

     The voice of the farmers of India is loud and clear. It says: We cannot accept any      We will lose our right to choose affordable crop protection solutions. We will be forced
     move to ban Endosulfan. Here are four reasons why...                                    to pay five to ten times more for alternatives which may not even be as effective
                                                                                             as Endosulfan. Our farm eco-system will be endangered as many of the suggested
     Reason 1: There is no evidence linking Endosulfan to health problems in                 alternatives are not safe to honeybees and beneficial insects. We depend on these
               Kasargod, Kerala.                                                             precious insects. If they are destroyed, we will be ruined.

     Reason 2: The Indian farmers’ experience of handling Endosulfan for 40 years has not    There will also be other major consequences.
               been accounted for. Our testimony has not been heard.
                                                                                             Food security will be threatened. Vegetable and fruit production will decrease.
                                                                                             Food prices will escalate.

54                                                                                                                                                                                  55
     The sovereignty of our nation will be undermined. If we allow a vested foreign            •	   These	studies	which	posed	as	being	scientific	were	in	fact	scientifically	inaccurate	
     interest to decide how we should conduct our trade and commerce, or what we can                and contained untenable data.
     and	cannot	produce	in	our	own	country,	then	we	run	the	serious	risk	of	jeopardizing	
     our freedom and independence. So far, it was only our pharmaceutical industry             •	   Environmental	groups	linked	to	European	interests	had	skillfully	orchestrated	a	
     which was fighting the patented versus generic war; now, our agro-chemical                     global fear campaign to malign Endosulfan.
     industry	is	under	fire;	tomorrow,	it	could	be	another	industry...	We	must	realize	that	
     the Endosulfan episode is just one example of how European countries want to              •	   This	had	misled	the	general	public	into	believing	that	Endosulfan	caused	a	host	
     undermine India’s economic growth so that they can continue to dominate the world              of health problems. Adverse public opinion had also forced some countries to
     stage in the area of business and commerce.                                                    ban the product.

     We cannot and must not let our independence, our right to choose be taken away            •	   The	studies,	the	fear	campaign	and	the	negative	public	perception	of	Endosulfan	
     from us.                                                                                       – all this was the ammunition that Europe had used to push for a ban in many
                                                                                                    countries and also to push for a recommendation for listing Endosulfan as a POP
     That is why we have to stand up as one and let our voices be heard.                            at the Stockholm Convention.
     Now is indeed our last chance.
                                                                                               The ban would kill two birds with the same stone:
     I had learnt enough. I understood what was going on vis-à-vis Endosulfan within India
     and at the international level. I had facts and figures to back up my findings which      The ban would wipe out the generic Endosulfan and with it, the Indian competition.
                                                                                               The ban would open up a huge market for expensive alternatives from Europe-based
     •	   Endosulfan,	the	low-cost,	generic	pesticide	was	being	targeted	as	harmful	on	the	    pesticide manufacturers.
          basis of studies initiated by some NGOs which were funded by foreign sources
          including Europe.

56                                                                                                                                                                                     57
     In conclusion:                                                                                Grandfather was still on the phone. His voice reached us on the verandah...
     European business interests and not health concerns were at the root of the ban.
     Health concerns were a clever smokescreen to hide European business interests.                “If the health or life of even one child in India or anywhere else in the world was being
                                                                                                   endangered, I would be the first one to give up Endosulfan.
     I should have been elated that I had conducted a successful investigation. But I was
     returning home to grandfather and father with a heavy heart.                                  But you know and I know that Endosulfan is not harmful. And yet this pesticide is
                                                                                                   made out to be the culprit. We are the ones who will have to pay the price of this
     I told them everything. Grandfather asked a lot of questions. So much of what I shared        falsehood...”
     was outside his realm of experience but he was so eager to learn and grasp the facts;
     suddenly I had become the teacher and he, my ardent student.                                  Grandfather was in full form. Knowing him, he was going to work day and night on this
                                                                                                   cause. And father would have the tough job of ensuring that he did not overdo things.
     Then he paced the long verandah. Up and down. It was the end of the day, but he did
     not	look	at	all	fatigued.	In	fact,	it	felt	as	if	new	energy,	new	zest	had	suddenly	entered	   I asked my father if I should stay over for a couple of days. It was only four days to full
     his being.                                                                                    moon. The look of utter relief on his face was all the answer I needed.

     He started making phone calls left, right and centre. Father dialled the numbers,             Grandfather’s	voice	was	getting	louder...	“Do	the	honourable	decision-makers	realize	
     he did the talking. What was the talk about? A farmers’ meeting. Soon, the date and           the	importance	of	low	cost	solutions	for	small	and	marginal	farmers?	Do	they	realize	
     the venue also got settled. The first meeting would be held in the neighbouring               that these solutions not only have to be low-cost but also safe for our honeybees?
     village in the primary school compound on purnima, full moon night.                           Do such alternatives exist right now? No, they do not! Then why ban a pesticide that
                                                                                                   has been such a trusted friend of the farmer for over 40 years? Despite the hallu-ballu
     Father handed over the dialling to my uncle, took me aside, asked me to write down            at Kasargod, Endosulfan has not been linked to any health problems. So how can they
     all the main points that I had shared with them. Grandfather was capable of waking            justify the ban?”
     him up in the middle of the night to seek clarification on some point or the other.

58                                                                                                                                                                                               59
     Parvati also thought that it was a good idea that I stay back in the village. I wanted to   The moon was full; the primary school compound was overflowing. Three hundred
     tell her that we made a good team, that without her, this investigation would not have      farmers were already seated and still more were arriving. A makeshift dias had been
     been so rock solid. But this kind of talk does not come easy to me. So many times I         made, two microphones were in place, it was all very orderly and impressive.
     have argued with her... “Does everything always have to be spelt out in words?”             There was even a master of ceremonies who at that very moment was introducing my
     And her answer, “Yes it does! At least till we develop supernatural powers and are able     grandfather. And when this grand old man rose, there was a thunderous applause.
     to read each other’s minds!”
                                                                                                 Grandfather began with a call that rang out loud and clear ... Bharat Mata ki Jai!
     I heard grandfather shout out for me. With a hurried goodbye to Parvati, I went             Bhagwan Balram ki Jai! Gau Mata ki Jai! Three hundred voices repeated the call.
     inside. Grandfather was still on the phone... “We have to speak up! We have to let          It was a moment out of time. I found myself participating with a fervour that was new
     our government know that in the interest of the small and marginal farmers, they            to me. All the fear and worry, all the admiration and respect that I felt for these men
     must continue to oppose the ban. Let every panchayat of every village write to              and women who silently go about their work of feeding the world – all these emotions
     our Honourable Prime Minister about this injustice. Prime Ministerji can urge other         rose to the fore as I called out ... Bharat Mata ki Jai!! Bhagwan Balram ki Jai!! Gau Mata
     countries to defend the rights of small and marginal farmers.                               ki Jai!!

     Grandfather was out of breath when he finally got off the phone. But it rang again          Then, the hush as grandfather began...We, the farmers of India...
     almost immediately. I told grandfather that I would answer. That’s when it struck me:
     however much I had rebelled, however hard I had fought against it, I was and always
     would be a farmer’s son and grandson.

     Yes, I would be there with grandfather on purnima night. And if he wanted,
     I would also speak at the meeting.

60                                                                                                                                                                                       61
Italian order permitting re-use of endosulfan after its ban in Europe   English translation of the Italian order

62                                                                                                                 63
European Union’s letter confirming to funding the CSE study   Foreign funding: RTI information on Rs. 56 Crores received by CSE

64                                                                                                                                65
Scientifically incorrect CSE study funded by EU

                                             SPECIAL REPORT

                                                                                                OMNIPRESENT POISON
                                             The maximum residue limits for the pesticide endosulfan in soil, water and vegetables from Padre
                                             have been breached several times over. But human blood! We couldn’t find any maximum residue
                                             limit for that. The tests conducted at the CSE laboratory show that each resident of Padre whose
                                             blood sample was tested has endosulfan residues several hundred times the residue limit for water
                                               Sample                           Detected            Maximum                Number of         Site/source of sample
                                                                                value of            residue limit          times value
                                                                                endosulfan1         (MRL)1                 exceeds MRL

                                               Water                                  1.18               0.18*                    7          Small stream in Kumbdaje village near Padre
                                               Water                                  6.87               0.18*                   38          Tank near the cashew plantation, Kajampady, Padre
                                               Water                                  9.19               0.18*                   51          The Kodenkiri stream near Vaninagar, Padre
                                               Butter                                14.00                NA1                   NA           From the milk of a cow of Saletadka, Padre
                                               Cow’s skin/fat tissue                 49.99                0.1                   500          From the abdominal region of a cow from Padre
                                               Cow’s Milk                            31.80                0.5                    64          From a cow that grasses around Kajampady, Padre
                                               Cow’s Milk                            57.20                0.5                   114          From a stall-fed cow in Kumbdaje village
                                               Coconut Oil                           17.00                NA                    NA           Extracted from produce of trees in Vaninagar, Padre
                                               Cashew                                54.11                NA                    NA           From a tree in the plantation near Kumbdaje village
                                               Vegetables                            31.24              0.4-2.0                78-16         Basale, leafy, spinach-like vegetable from Kajampady
                                               Human Milk                            22.40                NA                    NA           Lalitha, 35, resident of Kumbdaje village
                                               Human Blood                          108.90                NA                    NA           Vishnu Kulkarni, 16 has epilepsy & mental retardation
                                               Human Blood                          114.13                NA                    NA           Prabhawati Shastri, 35 has asthma & skin allergies
                                               Human Blood                          115.19                NA                    NA           Mohana Kumar, 40 has chronic throat infection
                                               Human Blood                          109.50                NA                    NA           Kittanna Shetty, 21 has cerebral palsy
                                               Human Blood                          196.47                NA                    NA           Muthakka Shetty, 50, Kittanna Shetty’s Mother
                                               Human Blood                          176.90                NA                    NA           Lalitha 35, resident of Kumbdaje village
                                               Live Frog                             10.35                NA                    NA           From a small stream in Kumbdaje village
                                               Cashew                                 3.74                NA                    NA           From the plantation near Kajampady, Padre
                                               Spices                               212.28                NA                    NA           Pepper bunch from Kajampady, Padre
                                               Fish                                  28.24                NA                    NA           From a tank in Kajampady, Padre
                                               Soil                                  35.16               0.09*                  391          From Lalitha’s house in Kumbdaje village
                                               Soil                                   3.17               0.09*                   35          From a few meters inside the plantation at Kajampady
                                               Soil                                   6.40               0.09*                   71          From plantation area on a hilltop Periyal, Padre
                                               Cashew leaves                          6.52                NA                    NA           From the heart of the plantation at Periyal, Padre

                                             SCIENCE FOR ECOLOGICAL SECURITY
                                             The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, has recently set up a
                                             laboratory to monitor pollution. Its aim is to conduct scienific studies and generate
                                             public awareness about pesticides and heavy metal contamination of food, water and
                                             soil. It provides scientific services at affordable prices to communities that do not have
                                             access to obtain scientific evidence of pollution. This is crucial in, say, a court case that
                                             a rural community might be fighting against a polluter. Given the state of scientific
                                             research in India – most of it is restricted to national defence and food security – this
                                             is an effort to use science to achieve ecological security. The laboratory provides paid
                                             services for financially self-sufficiency. The Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische
                                             Zusammenaabeit (GTZ) Gmbh, based in Bonn, and the Europian Union have provided
                                        34   the funds for setting up the laboratory.

                                             February 28, 2001 Down To Earth

66                                                                                                                                                                                                   67
                            “A Book every Indian must read”

Mandvi - Kachchh
Gujarat, India

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Description: A book everyone must read. Unearths truths about the sufferings of the farmers and endosulfan.