Green groups call for national ban on endosulfan
04/21/2011 | 01:17 PM
More than 100 groups renewed calls for the Philippine government to impose a national ban on endosulfan and support a global ban on the toxic pesticide.
“We are writing with urgency to appeal to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to impose a national ban on endosulfan and to back a global ban of this highly hazardous organochlorine pesticide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Republic of the Philippines is a party," they said in their letter, the text of which was posted on the blog site of EcoWaste Coalition, one of the groups that made the appeal.
They noted that Dole Philippines, Inc. and Del Monte Philippines, Inc. — the only companies ever to have been permitted to use endosulfan in the country — never did renew their licenses to import and use the highly toxic pesticide since 2008.
“The companies have shifted to alternative pesticides in the aftermath of the deadly M.V. Princess of the Stars maritime tragedy where some 10 metric tons of endosulfan also went down with the ill-fated passenger ship," they said. (Click here for related story.)
Citing human health and ecological risks of endosulfan as listed by governments, academics and citizens’ groups, including testimonies from pollution victims, the groups voiced fears about the “toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent characteristics of endosulfan, providing the agency with a solid basis to act with resolve."
The “toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent characteristics" they cited refers to endosulfan’s ability to remain in the food chain long after plants sprayed with the pesticide have been eaten my animals that, in turn, provide humans with food.
Govt officials called on to act
The letter was addressed to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority director Augusto Canlas.
Copies of the letter were sent to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje; DENR Environmental Management Bureau head Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna; DENR Environmental Quality Division head Renato Cruz; and DENR Chemicals Management Section head Angelita Brabante.
“We therefore urge your office to please expedite a process that will lead to the adoption of the above two-fold policy in time for the upcoming fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention in Geneva, Switzerland on April 25-29, 2011," the groups said.
The groups said banning the use of endosulfan will bolster the “temporary ban" under Memorandum Circular 2009-02 dated February 26, 2009, issued by then Environment Secretary Jose Atienza Jr.
According to the groups, the decision to ban endosulfan in the Philippines should be easy, non-contentious and defensible as the country has no registered use at all for endosulfan.
Groups worldwide against endosulfan
Also, they said the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2010 announced its action to terminate all uses of endosulfan because it “poses unacceptable risks to agricultural workers and wildlife, and can persist in the environment."
They added over 80 governments, including the state governments of Kerala and Karnataka in India, the 27-country European Union and the governments of Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Sri Lanka, have taken decisive steps to protect human health and the environment by phasing out and banning endosulfan.
“We hope that through your wise and able leadership the Philippines will rise to this global public health and environmental challenge and join the community of nations towards 'eliminating endosulfan from the face of the earth,'" they said.
Groups that signed the letter included EcoWaste president Roy Alvarez, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives co-coordinator Manny Calonzo, and Pesticide Action Network-Philippines president Dr. Romy Quijano.
The names of other signatories were posted on the EcoWaste blog site.
“It is imperative for the Philippine delegation to bring to the meeting a strong policy position banning endosulfan, which has been linked to neurological disorders, mental retardations, congenital physical deformities, and deaths among community farmers and residents in developing countries," Quijano said.
“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the health and environmental hazards caused by endosulfan. It's time for our country and the world to terminate this acutely toxic chemical pesticide," Calonzo added. – MRT/KBK, GMA News
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