I have just returned from Kasargod, Kerala where I had joined the victims for a seminar on Endo-Sulphan. Shahina who has lost her brother and is herself severly crippled opened the meeting with the following words, uttered in a weak and trembling voice :
“India is my country. I am proud to be an Indian. But the stand of India to oppose the global proposal for the ban of the dreadful poison Endosulphan is heavily painful to me. Pure air, pure water, pure food are the rights of any citizen. Hence ban of this poison is the basic duty of the Government. I feel ashamed in the fact that my country is supporting this, in spite of 81 countries opposing it. I demand my Government to implement the Ban Endosulfan on national level in the forthcoming COP at Geneva. I demand India shall cast the first vote for the ban of Endosulfan.”
We call on the Government to listen to Shahina’s quivering voice and respect the victims of Endosulphan, while making India a proud leader in environmental and health protection by banning Endosulphan nationally and taking necessary steps to ensure that India votes in the Endosulphan ban at the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants to be held in Geneva.
The Government of Kerala has already imposed a ban on Endosulphan. A survey done by the Kerala State Health Department has identified 4000 victims. 175 specialists from 11 departments of medical colleges screened the patients in 17 camps. In spite of these surveys and the scientific knowledge that Endosulfan is a neuro-toxin, a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor which leads to reproductive disorders and congenital malformation, the pesticide lobby continues to talk of Endosulphan as “harmless”. Their influence on the Agriculture Ministry has led the Agriculture Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar to block the national ban as well as international ban on Endosulphan. Mr. Sharad Pawar had misled Parliament falsely stating that there was opposition from some States to a national ban. However, RTI activists have found that no State Government has written to the Centre opposing a ban.
The corruption of decision making and the corruption of science by the pesticide lobby and its protectors in Government have already caused 1000 people their lives. It is time for this corruption to stop. Ecological agriculture that we promote in Navdanya is a safe and sustainable alternative that is poison free. Instead of killing people in Bhopal and Kasargod through pesticides, the Government should promote life enhancing organic farming. Organic agriculture is a health solution, an environment solution and a solution to hunger as our report “Health per Acre : Organic Solution to Hunger and Malnutrition” shows (Health per Acre, Navdanya / Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, 2011).
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