Banning Pesticides

Worker exposure to the pesticide endosulfan can lead to poisoning, deformity and even death.©

One of the world’s most dangerous pesticides is still responsible for severe health and environmental impacts, reports the Environmental Justice Foundation. The September 2009 report "End of the Road for Endosulfan" describes how the poisonous chemical—classified as a "persistent organic pollutant" or "POP"—has been banned in 62 countries, but has yet to be included under the Stockholm Convention, which would lead to a global ban on production and use. In fact, says EJF in a release, endosulfan is the dominant pesticide in the cotton sector in 19 countries.

The Indian government has long fought a ban on endosulfan, and, as such, the chemical continues to harm farm workers and children who apply it to crops. The substance is "readily absorbed by humans via the stomach, lungs and through the skin," according to the UK-based nonprofit’s report, and it’s been linked to congenital physical disorders, poisoning and death. What’s more, the chemical, as a POP, has remained in the environment and spread. Endosulfan has been found in remote regions such as the Arctic, Antarctic, Alps and Himalayas, and traces of it have been discovered in animals across the world—from polar bears to crocodiles to Minke whales. It is also, says the report, "a widespread contaminant of human breast milk." Last month Bayer CropScience, formerly Europe’s biggest producer of endosulfan, confirmed it will phase out the sale of the pesticide in 2010 thanks in part to pressure from campaigners like EJF and Pesticide Action Network. And these nonprofits continue to push for a definitive global ban.

SOURCES: End of the Road for Endosulfan; Pesticide Action Network.