WASHINGTON - August 18 - As Indian regulators, media and the public debate about a report on excessive levels of pesticide residues in Coke and Pepsi amongst other soft drinks, attention is not being paid to the real problem that is killing scores of Indians each year - that of deadly pesticides being used in agriculture on a variety of crops. Poverty stricken Indians are paying a heavy price for the use of pesticides in farming. Therefore the India-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific, and the German Coalition against Bayer Dangers urge pesticide producers to withdraw all highly toxic pesticides from the Indian market.
Kavitha Kuruganti from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA): “Many of these extremely dangerous pesticides are products of multinational companies like Bayer, DuPont and Syngenta which have stopped producing and marketing such pesticides in the developed world long ago. However, they maintain double standards on people in India. Here, they produce and market these pesticides aggressively.” The CSA has documented dozens of cases of poisonings, many of them fatal. “For instance Bayer´s pesticide Hinosan (active ingredient Edifenfos) is involved in such poisonings we documented”, continues Kuruganti.
“PAN AP in collaboration with partners in India and other countries in Asia, have documented how Class 1 pesticides, as well as those erroneously considered ‘less harmful’ such as endosulfan and paraquat (Class II) continue to poison millions of workers and farmers across Asia!”, asserts PAN Executive Director, Sarojeni V. Rengam. “It is an unmitigated tragedy that Class 1 pesticides, as well as paraquat and endosulfan—which are extremely hazardous under conditions of use in the South—are still so widely used. We call on the world’s largest producers of endosulfan, which is Bayer, and paraquat, namely Syngenta, to stop production of these deadly pesticides immediately!”
Bayer CropScience is the market leader for pesticides in India. In many parts of the world the company sells pesticides in WHO Class Ia (extremely hazardous) and Ib (highly hazardous) like Thiodicarb, Disulfoton, Parathion, Fenamiphos, Azinphos-methyl, Methamidophos and Oxydemeton Methyl. Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, which has been monitoring the corporation for more than 25 years: “In 1996 Bayer promised to replace all WHO Class I pesticides with products of less toxicity. The company evidently failed to keep its promise. Bayer products containing these extremely dangerous ingredients are still on the market. As a result thousands of agricultural workers across the world are poisoned year after year.”
In a statement issued by Bayer in Germany, the company acknowledged that it sells Class I product Hostathion (ingredient: Triazophos) in addition to Thiodan (Endosulfan) in India. However Bayer´s Indian website lists several more Class I substances like Larvin (Thiodicarb), Metasystox (Oxidemeton Methyl), Tamaron (Methamidophos) and Folidol (Parathion Methyl).
The Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, PAN Asia and the Pacific and the Coalition against Bayer Dangers state that a safe use of pesticides is not possible in India specifically, and the South in general, because of poverty, illiteracy and other social conditions as well as tropical climatic conditions which do not permit the wearing of protective gear, or institute other protective measures. The groups criticise the industry´s marketing strategies which give pesticides an image of being “safe”. They also recall the FAO code of conduct, to which India is a signatory and which has also been endorsed by the pesticides industry, which recommends that Class I and Class II pesticides should not be used in developing countries.
Having initiated a large programme of Non Pesticidal Management of crops successfully with farmers in over 180 thousand acres in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture questions the need for pesticides in agriculture. Therefore the Indian government is urged to ban aggressive marketing of pesticides, to express the acknowledgement that these products are essentially poisons and to ensure that the industry is made liable for their products, including compensation, medical care and economic rehabilitation for all victims.