The End of the Road for Endosulfan
Your amazing show of support joined a worldwide movement, with retailers and brands such as the Body Shop, C&A, H&M, Mango, Mothercare, Next, Nestle SA, CAOBISCO, and the John Lewis Partnership getting behind the campaign. Meanwhile, celebrities including Academy Award-nominated directors M. Night Shyamalan and Deepa Mehta, musician and composer Ravi Shankar and writer Anita Nair called on the Indian Government (which was leading opposition to a ban) to rethink its stance.
Together, we sent the message that a global ban was the only way to truly protect people and the environment from the devastating impacts of endosulfan use.
And, believe it or not, someone was listening.
Last week, country representatives meeting at the fifth conference of parties made the monumental decision to list endosulfan under Annex A of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). This listing requires parties to the convention to end endosulfan production and use within their borders within the next year.
Only 3 countries – India, China and Uganda – registered exemptions allowing them to continue using it in order to control pests on specific crops including cotton, coffee, onions, potatoes, chillies and apples. Production and use in these countries can continue for another 5 years, with the potential for additional delays if they introduce gradual phase-outs rather than immediate bans after this period.
This is a major victory for people and planet.
As a persistent organic pollutant (POP), endosulfan poses an exceptional threat to people and the environment. It is readily absorbed through human skin, the stomach and lungs and acute exposure has killed hundreds of people. Chronic exposure has been linked to severe physical deformities, reproductive problems, suppressed immunity, renal failure, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease and infertility.
Exposure can also be devastating to livestock and wildlife. Studies have linked it to physical deformities in chickens and cattle, whilst reports from the University of Florida and Kerala Agricultural University have connected endosulfan use to declines in honeybees.
Prior to the conference last week, more than 70 countries had introduced national measures to restrict endosulfan manufacture and use. These included the US, all EU countries, Brazil, Japan, Australia and most of West Africa. However, with its extreme persistence in the environment and its potential for long distance transportation, anything other than a global ban would continue to place huge areas and large numbers of people at risk of sustained exposure.
Recognizing this, and the range of alternatives already available, the 170 or so countries party to the Stockholm Convention made the decision to take global action and voted to add endosulfan as the 18th persistent organic pollutant (POP) targeted for elimination.
The next step is to ensure that this ban is enforced and that countries with exemptions establish alternatives as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone that supported this campaign and that signed and shared EJF’s petition. You truly made a difference – helping to make this year the end of the road for endosulfan.
Photo courtesy of EJF
NOTE: This is a guest post from the Environmental Justice Foundation.