The numbers of people affected by nearly 20 years of aerial spray of Endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide, in the cashew plantations in Kasaragod, the northern most district of Kerala is increasing. While the focus earlier was on Padre village, the health impacts are evident in people of nearly 11 panchayats in the district. Victims here are suffering from congenital deformities, physical disabilities, mental retardation and gynecological problems. The same health impacts are now being seen in the neighboring Dakshin Kanada district in Karnataka as well. Here, too, the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation aerially sprayed endosulfan over the cashew plantations for over 20 years.
As India prepares to go to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva in April, there are demands from states to ban the pesticide in the country and globally. India is one of the countries opposing the global ban, thanks to a very strong pesticide lobby in the country. The Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) is raising the pitch just before the countries meet to decide the fate of endosulfan.
PMFAI is now masking its economic concerns, a loss of over $ 100 US million, by propping the Indian farmers and the inevitable debt trap if a generic pesticide like 'endosulfan' was taken away from them and they were forced to use an alternative, patented by the EU and ten times costlier.
So while they are blaming it on a EU conspiracy, the PMFAI is ignoring the fact that 73 countries have banned the use of endosulfan. They ignore the fact that USA banned endosulfan in June 2010, citing health risk to farmworkers and wildlife and Makhteshim Agan, an Israeli based pesticide manufacturer and the pesticide registrant in the USA decide to voluntarily phase out the pesticide instead of putting up a fight against USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). The company perhaps understood that it was time for a pesticide like endosulfan to phase out.
The PMFAI is leaving no stone unturned. They are shedding crocodile tears for the farmers who will now fall in the trap of expensive chemical pesticides, they are completely ignoring the non chemical alternatives that are available in India and being successfully practiced in states like Andhra Pradesh (non pesticide management), parts of Punjab and Maharashtra (zero budget farming) and Sikkim (organic farming). These alternatives have not only brought farmers out of the debt trap they have also preserved the ecology and brought back the pollinators.
The Pesticide Manufacturers Association of India, from December 2010, began vehement lobbying to assure that endosulfan was not banned- but it received a body blow after Karnataka banned endosulfan in the state. Belthangady taluk in the Dakshin Kanada district of Karnataka also suffered like Kasaragod due to over 20 years of aerial spraying in its cashew plantations.
In the past the pesticide manufacturers have tried all possible means to vilify organizations and people who have researched, written about or spoken against endosulfan. It still continues.
Below is a detailed chronology of CSE's campaign against endosulfan and the tactics the pesticides industries used to suppress information, distort truth and discredit the whistle blowers.
How it all began:
Around 1963-64, the Kerala agriculture department began planting cashew trees on the hills around Padre village in Kasaragod district. Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) took over the estate in 1978. Trial spraying of endosulfan began in 1977-78. From 1981 PCK started regular spraying of Endosulfan two to three times a year. PCK had 4696 hectares of Cashew Plantations in Kasaragod district which include the Kasaragod Plantations (2190 hectares), the Rajapuram Plantations (1526 hectares) and the Cheemeni Plantations (980 Plantations). The Perla Division of Kasaragod Plantation has the Padre Village (Enmakaje Panchayat) which has remained the center point of endosulfan controversies for more than two decades now.
The concern related to the health and environmental impacts of pesticides, including endosulfan is not new. The Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Co-operation, Government of India constituted a high power committee in 1991 under the chairmanship of Dr. S.N. Banerji, Ex-Plant Protection Adviser to the government of India, to review whether some pesticides, including endosulfan should be continued to be used in India. Though the committee recommended the continued use of endosulfan in the country it specified that endosulfan should not be used near water-bodies as it would pollute the water body and moreover endosulfan is known to be highly toxic to fishes and that this should be put as a condition while issuing certificate of registration. In 1999, the Central Insecticides Board appointed an expert committee under the chairmanship of Dr. R B Singh to review the continued use of some pesticides including endosulfan. The committee also insisted that labeling should be made mandatory in bold letters to avoid use of endosulfan near water-bodies.
The reports of health impacts of the ongoing aerial spraying of endosulfan on villagers in Padre village began trickling in towards the end of 1990's. All these were alleged to be due to the aerial spraying of Endosulfan. From 1997 onwards social groups became active in the district highlighting the plight of the people in Padre village. Padre came into focus because of the efforts of a medical practitioner Dr YS Mohan Kumar and farmer-journalist Shree Padre. National attention turned towards Padre village and remained so for a long time. But with every advancing year, more and more health problems, were reported from areas surrounding the plantations of Kasaragod, Cheemeni and Rajapuram in Kasaragod district.
Government started taking note after 2000. From then committees of various departments, Non Governmental Organizations, Indian Council of Medical Research and other agencies conducted visits to the area, conducted studies and surveys to understand the relation between aerial spraying of endosulfan and the sudden spurt of health problems in the village. The results were mixed. Few studies acknowledged that ecological and health hazards in Padre village were due to endosulfan poisoning, few rejected the cause and effect relationship and some other committees remained neutral demanding more studies. But all studies recommended banning of aerial spray of endosulfan in the area, accepted the evident lapses in precautionary measures followed by the PCK and acknowledged the fact that there were indeed a large number of people health abnormalities.
CSE's fight to get justice for the victims: A Dateline
2000: Civil society groups from Kerala approach the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in late 2000 to conduct study in Padre village and determine the impact on health caused due to aerial spraying of endosulfan in the plantation area. And CSE agreed to do so as a part of its community support work.
February 21st 2001:
CSE releases its pesticide monitoring study report on Kasaragod. The study was conducted by the Pollution Monitoring Lab of CSE titled 'Analysis of samples from Padre Village in Kasaragod district of Kerala for Endosulfan Residues'. 25 samples from Padre village were collected just a few days after the aerial spray in cashew plantation in and around the village. They included water, soil, human blood and milk and animals. They were tested for presence of Endosulfan to determine the environment and health impacts. High amount of endosulfan residues were found, in most of the samples. Down To Earth reports the CSE study on endosulfan poisoning, in its February 28, 2001 issue, as a special report 'Children of Endosulfan'*. This report documented the health issues in the area. A large number of people of all ages in the village had been, for years, suffering from horrendous diseases.
February 23rd 2001: The government of Kerala issues an order to the state agriculture department to appoint a committee to study the endosulfan problems and its effect on humans and environment. This was ordered by the state in response to the public outcry against aerial spraying of endosulfan. The committee was chaired by Dr A Achyuthan.
February 28th 2001 – Deadline for the submission of preliminary report by the committee constituted by the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU). The committee, headed by M Abdul Salam, associate dean of college of agriculture, was set up by the Director of Research, KAU on February 13th 2001. The committee was to conduct a study on 'Environmental effects of aerial spraying on cashew plantations in Kasaragod'. This was in response to a letter written by Endosulfan Spray Protest Action Committee (ESPAC) in January 2001 demanding a clarification on the recommendation of endosulfan and withdrawing the certification of the pesticide. Although ESPAC never got the reply to the queries, this committee was set up.
KAU was supposed to make their preliminary report on the basis of visits to the village on February 19th 2001 (50 days after the last spray). Subsequent reports were to be filed after visits in August and a brainstorming session on the use of endosulfan. Preliminary reports on 15 water and soil samples showed that though no endosulfan residues were detected in water, residues were high in soil inside the plantation and low in soil from adjoining areas. The KAU team recommended an immediate stop on aerial spraying and recommended need based application of insecticide.
The second study also recommended a stop of aerial spraying . This report accepted unusual human health problem in Padre village but did not establish a cause-effect relationship between endosulfan and the health problems. The brainstorming session concluded that aerial spraying in the state be stopped since safety measures could not be followed, recommended in depth health studies along with studies on water pollution, heavy metal contamination and natural radioactivity. The report concluded that there was no conclusive evidence to fix endosulfan as the cause of the problem. ESPAC contested this report.(see: September 2001)
March 8th 2001: The director of National Research Centre for Cashew, Puttur writes to the Directorates of Cashew nut and Cocoa Development across the country to refrain from recommending endosulfan in the plantations. The decision was taken as the best possible alternative to limit exposure to endosulfan. The director however said that he neither supported nor contradicted endosulfan's suspected role in the abnormalities reported from Padre village.
June 4th 2001: Fredrick Institute of Plant Protection and Toxicology (FIPPAT) releases its report on pesticide residue analysis in Padre Village, Kasaragod. The study done by this Tamil Nadu based private laboratory, FIPPAT also known as the International Institute of Biotechnology and Toxicology, was sponsored by PCK. The samples were collected on March 17-18th (2 ½ months after the last spraying) and residues of endosulfan were analysed in 106 samples of human blood along with cow's milk, fish, water, soil and cashew leaves samples collected from Padre village. FIPPAT results showed no residues of Endosulfan in any of the blood samples, cow's milk and water samples. However, some residue of Endosulfan was detected in soil (0.001 to 0.012 ppm) and leaf (0.04 to 2.863 ppm) samples.
July 23rd 2001: India Today publishes a report 'Spray of Misery'* documenting the physical and mental illness faced by people due to endosulfan. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) takes suo motu cognizance of the report and asks the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a detailed report. A three member team from the National Institute of Occupational Health is set up. The report was released in two parts on January and July, 2002. (See January 2002)
August 2001: Kasaragod District Committee of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), a people's science movement, releases its report “Household Survey to assess the health and Environmental Impact of Aerial Spraying of Endosulfan in PCK Cashew Plantation of Kasaragod district”. The study revealed that proportion of childless couples was three times higher in Padre village (Enmakaje Panchayat) that other areas in and around the plantations. High rates of locomotor disability and mental retardation were found in the Enmakaje panchayat as compared to the rate in Kerala according to a state level household health survey conducted by KSSP in 1996. The environmental impact was higher in Padre village.
The study concluded that there was no absolute and final proof of the impact of endosulfan on health or ecology but there was sufficient reason to suspect it as the most likely contributing cause.
August 25th 2001: Government of Kerala issues orders to suspend the use of endosulfan in all crops and plantations until further orders. This was in response to public outcry and media reports regarding health hazards and pollution caused by spraying of endosulfan in cashew plantations owned by PCK.
September 2001: ESPAC issues a white paper on the KAU report analysing and refuting claims made by the Kerala Agriculture University study (See February 28th 2001). The KAU report claimed that endosulfan was not likely to have any impact on reproductive system and 'did not appear to be carcinogenic' and that it was relatively toxic to fish but comparatively safe for honey bees. The white paper responded by stating that though no studies were conducted on human reproductive systems, studies on animal showed that endosulfan had an impact on the reproductive system. ESPAC cited studies to show that endosulfan did cause cancer and was a potential liver tumor promoter. ESPAC stated that endosulfan was acutely toxic to honey bees as was seen with the deaths of bees in the villages over the years. ESPAC cited the US National Wildlife Federation that said that endosulfan was extremely toxic to wildlife and acutely toxic to bees. ESPAC also cleared that KAU did not do any random sampling as it had claimed in its final report. The paper also claims that scientists working in the labs where the tests were done revealed that the labs were not well equipped to do proper testing and had conducted the study using expired standards.
November 22nd 2001 : Dr A Achyuthan committee releases the “Report of the committee to study and analyse the effects of aerial spray of Endosulfan in the cashew plantations of PCK in Kasaragod district”. The committee did not collect samples instead examined data collected by other agencies and recorded written and oral depositions from concerned authorities. (See: February 23rd 2001)
The committee suggested that though there is no direct evidence to attribute health problems to endosulfan, there was no evidence to completely deny it. This was because other pollutants like automobile and industries were absent and aerial spraying was the only activity. The committee concluded that undulating nature of land and presence of large number of water bodies and human habitation in and near the plantations made the area unsuitable for aerial spraying of pesticides and the protocol for aerial spraying was not followed by PCK. The study pointed out that use of same pesticide for 20 years was against the recommended practice of rotating pesticides. The committee recommended banning of aerial spraying of pesticides in all cashew plantations of PCK in Kasaragod District and use of endosulfan should be frozen for 5 years in these plantations. Further, plantations in the Perla Division (which included Enmakaje panchayat) should observe five years of pesticide holiday.
January 2002: Three member team from the National Institute of Occupational Health, at the behest of the ICMR, releases the first part of the study. The report shows presence of endosulfan residues in water samples as well as in blood samples from Padre Village. The report concluded that there was a high prevalence of congenital malformations in exposed groups, low IQ, Scholastic backwardness, learning disability, early menarche in girls and delayed puberty in boys. The second part of the report was released in July 2002. (See: 24th July, 2002)
February 2002: Thanal, a non profit in Kerala, releases its report “Long Term Monitoring – The impact of pesticides on the people and the ecosystem in Kasaragod, Keralam, India”. The first part, a dossier, was released in October 2001. The report concluded that presence of unusual health problems, studies confirming the biological health effects of endosulfan and finally absence of such diseases in places away from the PCK plantations, confirmed that the hypothesis of endosulfan being the cause of the health problems could in fact be true. Thanal based its results on concluded studies and survey done by itself to analyse the health impacts. The survey by Thanal was on various types of disorders prevalent in the district and the number of people suffering from these diseases.
February 18th 2002: Government of Kerala issues orders on continued prohibition of aerial spray of endosulfan on all crops in the state (see August 25, 2001), five year pesticide holiday for Perla division and only ground based spraying (manual spraying) to be undertaken by PCK in the cashew plantation. This was in background of the Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) moving the Kerala High Court seeking to quash the state government order of August 25, 2001 (to suspend the use of endosulfan in the state) and the High Court bench deciding that the government should take cognizance of the Achuthan committee report and take a decision based on section 27 of the Insecticides Act.
According to Sec 27(1): If, on receipt of a report, the Central Government or the State Government is of opinion that the use of any insecticide is likely to involve such risk to human beings or animals as to render it expedient or necessary to take immediate action then that Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, prohibit the sale, distribution or use of the insecticide or batch, in such area, to such extent and for such period (not exceeding sixty days) as may be specified in the notification pending investigation into the matter.
February 20th 2002: Inter ministerial committee, at the Centre, discussed the NIOH report (submitted in Jan 2002). The inter ministerial committee seeks the view of the Insecticides Registration Committee under the Insecticides Act 1968. The Registration Committee constitutes an expert group to be chaired by Dr OP Dubey, assistant director general (plant protection), of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. The Dubey Committee was to examine report of NIOH, Achyuthan Committee, KAU and FIPPAT report and do a safety assessment of Endosulfan and to recommend on its continued use/restricted use or otherwise. The Dubey committee report was released in March 2003.(See April 1st 2003)
July 15th 2002: Down To Earth releases its exposé “Endosulfan Conspiracy” on the connivance of the pesticide industry with government officials and scientists in Kerala Agriculture University in an effort to get a clean chit for its product. For instance, the exposé showed that the KAU scientist who did the residue analysis washed his hands completely off the study and said that he was involved only in the first residue analysis and that he was unaware of where the samples were brought from.
July 24th 2002: Three member team from National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) release their second part of the report (see Jan, 2002). NIOH report finds higher prevalence of neurobehavioural disorder and congenital malformations in females and abnormalities in male reproductive system in Enmakaje panchayat as compared to control group in Meenja panchayat. The study concluded that the health problems in the Enmakaje panchayat was due to the high and continued exposure to endosulfan through various environmental media such as food, water, soil and air. It also added that there was a close similarity between the spectrum of health effects observed in the study population and those described in animal experiments. NIOH indicts endosulfan.
See Also: Industry's Nemesis; International journal vindicates endosulfan study
August 12th 2002: The Kerala High court bans the complete use of the endosulfan in the state pending a decision from OP Dubey Committee. The division bench, banned the pesticide and made it clear that it cannot be used in any of its formulations or under any of its brand names. The interim order was passed on two PILs filed by the Thiruvamkulam Nature Lovers Movement, the People’s Council for Social Justice and the Samatha Law Society seeking a ban on the deadly pesticide.
See Also: Kerala HC bans endosulfan, final decision awaited
September 4th 2002: The Health and Family Welfare Department of Kerala forms an expert committee under the chairmanship of Dr PK Sivaraman. The committee was constituted to look into the health hazards of Endosulfan in the area under PCK and do a detailed study. It included members of public health, agriculture department and the State Pollution Control Board. (See August 2003)
April 1st 2003: The OP Dubey committee report is discussed in the 233rd meeting of the Registration Committee. The report was released in March 2003. The Dubey committee report establishes no link between use of endosulfan in PCK plantations and health problems reported in the Padre Village. The committee recommended a comprehensive and detailed health and epidemiological study in the entire cashew plantation area of Kerala in order to establish a relationship between illnesses in Padre village and endosulfan. Government of Kerala was asked to conduct this study. The Committee recommended that in view of recommendations of other committees aerial spraying of pesticides may not be allowed at all in any situation.
See Also: What Dubey Did; Endosulfan declared not guilty
August 2003: High powered committee, chaired by PK Sivaraman, set up the by Kerala government in September 2002 submits its report. The committee concluded that high levels of endosulfan residues in the blood samples of school children in and around the PCK plantations showed long term exposure to the pesticide. Ecological studies also showed high content of endosulfan in soil, water and the flora. It was evident that PCK did not follow protective precautions for the workers, the public in the surrounding areas and the water sources during spraying. Since there was no other source that could explain the health hazards the committee attributed it to aerial spraying of endosulfan in the plantation.
The committee recommended a permanent ban of endosulfan aerial spraying, enhancement of medical facilities, especially in the affected area of Kasaragod. They recommended regular monitoring of people for similar anomalies and fresh cases in the affected area by health workers and regular reporting to District Medical Officer.
December 2003: The Senior Editor of Environment Health Perspectives (EHP) Dr. Jim Burkhart commented on the NIOH study 'Effect of Endosulfan on Male Reproductive Development' published under the Children's Health section of EHP journal (Volume 111). He said "This is the first human study to ever measure the effects of endosulfan on the male reproductive system. Decades of spraying this pesticide, and only this pesticide, on the village provided a unique opportunity to analyze its impact. Although the sample size is somewhat limited, the results are quite compelling." EHP is the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
April 15th 2004:
Down To Earth report '‘Lies, damn lies and endosulfan’ reveals how the OP Dubey committee was manipulated, evidence was suppressed and facts were distorted to absolve endosulfan. Dubey committee completely ignored the NIOH report or the answers given by NIOH to the queries posed by the Dubey committee. It instead relied completely on the FIPPAT report, that had found no residues in any of the human samples, cow's milk or water samples. The Down to Earth report revealed FIPPAT had actually detected endosulfan residues in human blood samples but had not disclosed this in its final report.
September 2004: The government forms another expert committee under the chairmanship of CD Mayee, Agriculture Commissioner. The Mayee committee was formed since there was a lack of unanimity among the members of the Dubey committee with regards to its recommendations and lack of consensus among the experts on the safety of endosulfan.
The Mayee committee was asked to examine the various reports, findings and recommendations of previous committees on endosulfan in order to assess the safety in regard to public health and to make recommendations regarding the future use of endosulfan.
See Also: Endosulfan Meeting
December 2004: Mayee committee submits its report. Mayee committee report (marked For official use only) neither re-examined the FIPPAT issue nor did they re-look into all aspects that Dubey committee had ignored. Ironically, Mayee committee completely depended on Dubey committee. The very committee whose criticism has led to its formation. Mayee gives a clean chit to endosulfan says no link between endosulfan spray and health problems.
December 7th 2004: The State Pollution Control Board suspends use of endosulfan in any form in Kasaragod district until a final decision was taken in the matter.
August 31st 2005: Down To Earth reports about the details of Dubey committee report (again classified as For official use only and not publicly available till date) in the article ‘What Dubey Did’. The article showed how Dubey had suppressed dissent and that majority of the scientific members in the committee had ruled against endosulfan.
December 13th 2005: Union ministry of agriculture issues gazette notification restricting the use of Endosulfan in any form in the State of Kerala.
Vilification Campaign begins against CSE
From the time CSE came out with its report on the impact of aerial spraying of endosulfan on health of the people in Padre village till the time the Union agriculture ministry ordered a state ban on endosulfan, the pesticide manufacturers tried all possible tricks in the book to ensure continued use of endosulfan in the cashew plantations of Kerala. They suppressed facts by sponsoring fraudulent reports and manipulating committees.
But after the Union ministry of agriculture nod to ban endosulfan in 2005, the manufacturers changed their game plan. In 2006 the pesticide manufacturers got together and started a not for profit Centre for Environment and Agrochemicals. The not-for-profit claimed to work for the welfare of the farmers and promoting the judicious use of pesticides. One of their objectives, they claimed, was to expose scientifically fraudulent reports about pesticides!
They began harassing organizations and any individual who supported the ban. They began by sending letters and filing defamation cases against CSE. They even went to the extent of sending fake cases. They distributed booklets with obscene cartoons at the CSE gate; these were in bad taste and vilified Sunita Narain, Vandana Siva, Toxics Link and IIT-Kanpur scientists. They also picketed the CSE office and at Sunita Narain's house for over a month in 2007.
Centre for Environment & Agrochemicals chaired by Rajju Shroff, has been at the fore of maligning the reputation of CSE and Sunita Narain. Though UPL does not manufacture endosulfan, Excel Crop Care does and it belongs to Shroff's extended family. Moreover, his interest in CSE bashing emanates from the fact that he sees these reports as an attack on the pesticide industry and a ban on endosulfan, which has become the face of pesticides in India, will become a precedent to ban other pesticides as well. The attacks became vitriolic and what began in 2006 continues even today.
May 22nd 2006: RG Aggarwal from Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) writes a letter to CSE citing doubts and apprehensions with regard to the CSE study.
June 3rd 2006: Centre for Environment & Agrochemicals (CEA) sends notice to NIOH asking for unconditional apology in writing and to withdraw the NIOH report with immediate effect. The CEA was referring to the presentation “Impact of Endosulfan on Human Health” made by NIOH at a seminar organised by CSE on March 25. CEA said that the study was unfounded and unscientific.
June 8th and September 4th,2006: CCFI sends a legal notice to CSE to withdraw the CSE study with immediate effect.(See: Jan 19th 2007)
September 7th 2006: CEA sends another notice to NIOH. This notice was similar to the previous notice sent on July 3rd. The notice questions how Dr Aruna Dewan of NIOH gave credibility to the claims of CSE study. Dr Dewan had attended a meeting at CSE on the endosulfan issue.
December 12th 2006: Dr TP Rajendran (assistant director general, plant protection) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research in letter to CCFI confirmed that since the water solubility of endosulfan is 0.32 ppm it is not theoretically possible to find up to 9.19 ppm of its residues in filtered water. Dr TP Rajendran however conveniently ignored the fact that water can contain both soluble and insoluble factions of endosulfan.
December 30th 2006: CCFI files a case of defamation against CSE. (See: Jan 5th 2008)
January 19th 2007: CSE sends a legal response to the CCFI notice (June 8th 2006) stating that the study was in public interest and in public domain and there was no case of defamation.
May 2nd -3rd 2007: CEA hires a PR agency to distribute booklets called “Chemistry of a scientific fraud” with obscene cartoons at CSE gate and in other institutions in the neighbourhood. The cartoons were in bad taste and vilified Sunita Narain, director, CSE. They also picketed the CSE office for about a month. They also harassed Sunita Narain by picketing in front of her house.
See also: Sunita Narain's reponse to the picketing
September 2007: CEA filed a defamatory case against Dr Aruna Dewan, retired scientist of National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad for making a presentation at the CSE's conference held in March 2006 on “Impact of Endosulfan on Human Health”. This SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) case was filed clearly to harass this retired scientist.
October 1st 2007: CEA sends letters to the CSE board members along with the copy of “Chemistry of a Scientific Fraud” for their comments and response. It also contained obscene cartoons and material disparaging Sunita Narain and Dr Padma Vankar IIT Kanpur scientist, associated with the study. The harassment continued even after all the responses were provided by CSE to numerous government committees and courts.
October 9th 2007: Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) sends a legal notice to Dr Padma Vankar and IIT Kanpur demanding them to either demonstrate the CSE findings or withdraw it unconditionally. This harassment continues.
January 5th 2008: Magistrate dismisses the defamation case filed on December 30th 2006 by CCFI against CSE. The Magistrate observed that the report was misunderstood as offending. CCFI challenges the order. Again the court dismisses this case. The court finds no validity in the accusations and allegations against us. (See June 19th 2008)
April 25th 2008: A legal notice for harassment, criminal intimidation, damage of property and threat to life, is served to Sunita Narain by the representative of CEA. Arvind G Tiwari and volunteers of CEA, claim that they was threatened while protesting at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi while demonstrating against CSE's endosulfan study. Kushal Pal Singh Yadav, the Down To Earth correspondent who had unfolded the murky details of reports submitted by government appointed committees in the endosulfan issue responded to the allegations leveled against CSE by the legal representatives of Arvind G Tiwari. In the response letter he stated that the context of the allegation to CSE was completely vague though CSE completely supported the right of Tiwari and his volunteers to peacefully protest.
June 19th 2008: The Magistrate once again rejects the defamation case that CCFI had challenged in the court on January 5th 2008. The magistrate confirms that the study was not defamatory in nature and that it was merely a criticism.
June 24th 2008: CEA distributes a booklet named “ Erring scientist in an eminent educational institute” among the doctors in Gujarat. It claimed that all analysis of residues done by CSE & Dr Padma Vankar of IIT were fabricated and false.
July 9th 2008: CEA serves notice to Dr Sapna Johnson of CSE asking for an apology for the report published on endosulfan. Same issues were raised once again by the pesticide lobby. These are harassment tactics.
July 22nd 2008: Salil Singhal of PI Industries Ltd sends an e-mail to Sunita Narain. The e-mail stated that CSE studies were not infallible and pesticides did not have any long term health impact. A similar e-mail was sent by RG Aggarwal, chairman, CCFI to Sunita Narain. He said that pesticides being detected in the blood do not confirm the presence of disease. Once again the pesticide industry comes together to deny the problem.
October 13th -17th 2008: Endosulfan enters the process of consideration as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) in the fourth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of Stockholm Convention held in Geneva, Switzerland. The POPRC decided that endosulfan met the criteria of Annex D of the Stockholm Convention – a) half life of the chemical in water is more than two months or half life in soil is greater than six months or half life in sediment is greater than six months or b) the chemical is otherwise sufficiently persistent to justify its consideration within the scope of the Convention.
See also: But noose tightens
December 10th 2008: CCFI files a criminal writ petition against CSE after losing earlier in January. The petition states that CSE among other accused created, printed, published and circulated a defamatory study report on Endosulfan with malafide and criminal objective. CSE was made aware of this case on May 10th 2010. The High Court rejected CCFI's appeal for expeditious hearing.
October 12th-16th 2009: Fifth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of Stockholm Convention reviews and adopts a revised draft risk profile on Endosulfan by which it agrees that the POP characteristics of the chemical warrant global action.
December 2009: CCFI presents a 'fake' criminal writ petition for CSE in the Mumbai high court, in which the court had asked Sunita Narain and others accused to appear in person. On reaching the court, CSE realized that no such case had been filed and the notice was fake.
March 15th -19th 2010: India blocks the listing of endosulfan in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention at the Chemical Review Committee meeting. Under Annex III the chemical is subjected to Prior Informed Consent (PIC) of the importing country. India had blocked it on previous occasion in 2008.
April 19th 2010: Excel Crop Care Ltd serves defamation notice to Sunita Narain & CSE staff, involved in the CSE study and 'India TV' for telecasting the program titled “Vishbel” based on CSE's endosulfan study.
May 25th 2010: Excel Crop Care Ltd writes to CSE regarding the criminal offense committed in India TV program “Vishbel”. The program claimed to be based on CSE report, the contents of which they referred to as “unfounded, unscientific, false and imaginary”.
June 2010: US bans endosulfan.
June 21st 2010 and August 27th 2010: Endosulfan Manufactures & Formulators Welfare Association (EMFWA) writes to Minister of Environment & Forests Jairam Ramesh and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding EU funding CSE to carry out a fraudulent scientific study to malign a generic insecticide endosulfan. They claim that NGOs are a part of the EU conspiracy to replace endosulfan with expensive alternatives that are being promoted by EU. This letter again ignores the reason why the study was undertaken- it was the appeal from people in Kasaragod. The letter ignores that the findings of the study have been vindicated again and again. This smear campaign will not dissuade us from our work.
October 4th 2010: EMFWA writes to Donald Cooper, executive secretary, United Nations Environment Program calling CSE's study fraudulent.
October 11th-15th 2010: Sixth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) agrees to adopt the risk management evaluation for endosulfan and recommend listing endosulfan in Annex A of the Convention, a move that would lead to its elimination of the chemical from the global market. India opposes the ban on endosulfan.
See also: India still in endosulfan denial
October 15th 2010: Endosulfan Manufactures & Formulators Welfare Association (EMFWA) sends another letter to Jairam Ramesh claiming that the report published by CSE was not researched.
October 25th 2010: The Minister of State for Agriculture KV Thomas's statement, in Thiruvananthapuram, on absolving endosulfan for the health impact of victims in Kasaragod received flak. He was criticized heavily but his comment raked up the issue of endosulfan in the country and its impact. Focus once again shifted to Kasaragod and there was a fresh demand for a nationwide ban of the pesticide.
November, 2010: Soon after Thomas' statement, Down To Earth traveled extensively in Kasaragod, Palakkad and Idukki districts in November to assess the current situation of the areas affected by the incessant use of endosulfan despite being banned in the state. In Kasaragod, the victims have spread to villages in over 11 panchayats in the district. Muthalamada in Palakkad district, known as the Mango city, has easy access to endosulfan through the porous Tamil Nadu border. It is being sprayed in the mango plantations and health impacts, similar to that of Kasaragod is beginning to show in Palakkad as well. In Idukki, the problem lies with the overuse of many pesticides including endosulfan, that is banned in Kerala. Down To Earth also traveled to Dakshin Kanada where the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation (KCDC) sprayed endosulfan over the cashew plantations in the district and the situation was similar to that of Kasaragod. Stories bringing out the plight of the victims were published in the fortnightly and received huge response.
November 18th 2010: National Human Rights Commission issues notices to the Central and State governments seeking explanations on reports that the aerial spraying of endosulfan in Kasargod had affected people severely.
November 19th 2010: Kerala Pollution Control Board issues a notification to ban any use of endosulfan in the state under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act 1981. PCB announced the ban on finding traces of Endosulfan in water and sediment samples collected from the Shiriya river and nearby watercourses in Kasaragod. Violation of the ban will attract imprisonment for a maximum period of six years and fine.
December 4th 2010: At the insistence of the NHRC, which equaled the situation in Kasaragod to that of the Bhopal Gas tragedy, An inter ministerial committee was formed to study the health impacts of endosulfan spraying in Kasaragod district. CD Mayee, now chairman of Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board was to chair the committee but was removed following opposition by civil society groups in Kerala. The committee is now headed by ICMR director, VM Katoch.
See Related Down To Earth Article
February 17th 2011: Karnataka bans endosulfan in the state. The state bans the pesticide through a cabinet decision for a period of 60 days u/s 27(1) of the Insecticide Act. The EMFWA reacts by filing a case against the state for banning the pesticide in an 'unscientific' manner.
March 22nd 2011: Endosulfan manufacturers and others on Tuesday filed an amendment application before the High Court, rubbishing the government’s report on the threat associated with the use of the pesticide. On the Government Order citing deformities and the order passed by Kerala, the applicants said there had been no such incidents in Karnataka.
March 14th 2011: A farmers’ meet is organised to bring all farmer organisation under a federation structure. The meeting, believed to have been attended by many farmer organisations, also called for a CBI enquiry against CSE for getting funds from EU and creating a pressure group to ban endosulfan. They obviously have ignored the basic facts of why CSE did a study on endosulfan in the first place. However, it came to light that not only were many farmer organisations falsely represented, the meeting was also known to be organised by Excel Crop Care limited.
March 17th 2011: Agriculture Today, an agriculture magazine based out of New Delhi, holds a press conference targeting non profits working towards banning endosulfan and getting justice for the victims. They targeted CSE for working at the behest of the EU towards banning endosulfan completely ignoring the fact that the study on endosulfan in Kasaragod was done at the request of the people in Kerala who were working amongst the endosulfan victims. The press conference was chaired by OP Dubey and MJ Khan, the editor of Agriculture Today.
April 20, 2011: Department of Health and family welfare, Government of Kerala released the report 'Report on Health Effects of Endosulfan and Progress of Rehabilitation Activities in Kerala'. This report gives the rehabilitation progress that has been made till date and the health effects of Endosulfan. In the end of this report is a compilation of all literature available on endosulfan labelled under different headings.
April 23, 2011: A delegation of MLA's and ministers from Kerala visted prime minister to urge him to ban endosulfan. The Kerala delegation submitted a study by the Calicut Medical College that showed the health impacts of endosulfan on the villages in Kasaragod. (see report- attatch the study). The prime minister however said that he would wait for the ICMR study to take a decision on banning or letting the pesticide be.
April 25- 30, 2011: COP5 of the Stockholm Convention was held at Geneva. Indian delegation comprised of Gauri Kumar additional secretary (MOEF), Rajiv Gauba, joint Secretary (MOEF), Chanda Choudhary (MOEF), Vandana Jain (MoA) T Basu (HIL). S Ganesan of the Indian Chemical Council and Hariharan of the International Stewardship Centre (both were there as NGOs and observers). India agreed to the listing of the technical endosulfan and its related isomers in Annex A of the UN's Stockholm Convention, without any opposition but with exemptions. Listing of a chemical in Annex A means that Endosulfan should be banned globally.
April 26, 2011: Supreme Court admitted a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) seeking a ban on the production, sale and use of pesticide. During the first hearing on May 2, the bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia, Justice KS Radhakrishnan, and Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Centre as to whythere should not be a ban on the sale and use of the pesticide against which there has been proven records of consequences on human health. The Bench also directed the Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to be present on May 11, the next hearing, with the centre’s response.
April 27, 2011: Letter was sent to all states (except Kerala & Karnataka) by Anup Kumar Thakur, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. In the letter he requested all the states except Kerala and Karnataka to give their views on their experience with Endosulfan.
April 28, 2011: Letter was sent to Sharad Pawar by Dr. Ramkrishn Kusmaria, Minister of Farmer's Welfare and Agriculture Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh. In this letter he confirms his support for the ban on endosulfan and urges that the Government of India should immediately ban such chemical substances that have grave consequences for the human race and the ecology around it.
May 13, 2011- Supreme Court bans the use, sale, production and export of Endosulfan across the country. The Court passed the order while hearing a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India. The Court has given a two month period for the ICMR-Agriculture commissioner joint committee to submit their report on the health impacts of Endosulfan.