Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Jul 06, 2004
Industry & Economy
Will banning endosulfan solve the problem?
Mumbai , July 5
WHEN the kharif sowing season starts in the right earnest, there will be one issue that will concern both the agro-chemical industry as well as the environmentalists - endosulfan.
The industry's concern is rooted in the fear that offtake of this general purpose pesticide may be impacted this season as the endosulfan issue has come up once again. On the other hand, the environmentalists' anxiety would be the consequences of constant use of pesticides.
The endosulfan issue, which first came up in 2001 following reports of incidence of deformities and diseases in Padre, a village in Kerala's Kasargod district, because of the use of this pesticide, was once again a subject of discussion recently after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Director, Ms Sunita Narain, spoke on the subject in Kerala.
Even as she reiterated that endosulfan was responsible for the reproductive and congenital abnormalities in the residents of Padre village, she did not seek a ban on the pesticide. Her contention was that a ban on endosulfan would prompt the industry to look for an alternative pesticide.
The pesticide industry vehemently maintains that endosulfan is a widely used agro-chemical around the world and has not had any health implications. According to Mr Raju Shroff, Chairman, Crop Care Federation of India, there are no established side-effects to the use of endosulfan. A similar view is echoed by the Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators' Association of India (PMFAI) Director, Mr Pradeep Dave.
According to Mr Dave, the O.P. Dubey committee set up to look at this issue has cleared this pesticide.
India is the leading producer of endosulfan; three companies are involved in the manufacture of this pesticide - Excel Crop Care Ltd, Hindustan Insecticides and EID Parry.
Of these, Excel Crop Care, part of the Excel Group, is the leading producer. Endosulfan accounts for Rs 100 crore of the total Rs 300 crore turnover. According to Mr Dipesh Shroff, Managing Director, Excel Crop Care, the Endosulfan Manufacturers Association of India (EMAI) is planning to move the Kerala High Court to lift the temporary ban on the use of this pesticide. Mr Shroff is also the President of EMAI.
Although Excel Crop Care is the largest manufacturer of endosulfan, it has not sold much in Kerala. ``Overall sales of endosulfan in Kerala are very small,'' Mr Shroff said.
He does not believe that sales of endosulfan would be impacted despite the news reports on the damaging effects of this pesticide. However, a clearer picture would emerge only when monsoon sets in fully and the need for pesticides arises. Excel Crop Care had a large exposure to endosulfan; over the years, it has reduced the proportion of endosulfan from its turnover.
India's pesticide industry produces 15 million litres of endosulfan.
Even as the industry has been critical of the ban of endosulfan in Kerala, there have been reports that the pesticide has been banned from use on some vegetable crops in Australia after the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority found residue levels too high for human consumption.
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