Bayer to Stop Selling Endosulfan

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Media Director, (415) 981-1771

Bayer to Stop Selling Endosulfan

SAN FRANCISCO - The multinational chemical company Bayer has committed to end
distribution of the pesticide endosulfan in 2010, and to replace the
toxic pesticide with safer alternatives. The decision follows an
innovative action in 16 countries, led by Pants to Poverty, the organic
and Fairtrade underwear company, and its coalition of partners
including Pesticide Action Network, Fairtrade Alliance Kerala and
Zameen Organic.

In a letter addressed to Coalition Against Bayer Dangers, Bayer said:
"We plan to stop the sale of the substance endosulfan by the end of
2010 in all the countries where it is still legally available." The
letter, signed by Bayer CropScience's head of investor relations,
Judith Nestmann, said endosulfan would be replaced by alternatives
"with a significantly better risk profile".

Bayer's decision comes after years of global campaigning by the PAN
Network and its partners and allies against this persistent pesticide,
which is linked to autism, birth defects and male reproductive harm, as
well as deaths and acute injuries to farmers through direct contact. It
is banned in over 60 countries including those in the European Union.
In the United States endosulfan is used primarily on cotton in the
state of California and tomatoes in Florida. Several lawsuits and legal
petitions have been filed by groups concerned about the chemical's
health effects.

In this latest action, in 16 centres around the world, people exchanged
their conventional undies for a free pair of organic underwear, and
signalled their commitment to cotton production without the use of
endosulfan. The conventional undies were sent to Bayer's HQ with a
demand that it ceases to distribute endosulfan.

Linda Craig, Director of Pesticide Action Network UK, said, "We are
pleased that Bayer has committed to stop selling endosulfan. There are
many proven alternatives to its use that do not have the deadly side
effects of this pesticide".

Staff scientist Karl Tupper of PAN North America said "With Bayer
stepping out of the picture, this leaves just handful of generic
manufactures selling this poison. We call on these companies to put
health and the environment ahead of the meagre profits they earn
pushing this antiquated pesticide, and stop their sales. It's the only
responsible thing to do."

"Nine countries in West Africa have taken the resolution to ban the use
of endosulfan in agriculture because of the serious effects observed on
farmers and their families, and on the environment. It is necessary to
continue to push for the total ban of this product around the world"
indicated Dr. Abou Thiam, regional coordinator of Pesticide Action
Network Africa.

At the international level, endosulfan is being scrutinized at the
Rotterdam Convention for stricter regulation and at the Stockholm
Convention for an international ban due to its adverse effects on human
health and the environment. PAN will continue to work to ensure that
endosulfan is included in the list of chemicals that are banned
globally. 

However, progress is obstructed by the Government of India, as Dr.
Meriel Watts, Coordinator of PAN Aotearoa New Zealand observes: "In
India, the Government itself manufactures endosulfan - it owns
Hindustan Insecticides which manufactures endosulfan, and then the
Indian Government acts in the international conventions to stop
endosulfan's listing. It has members on both the Stockholm Convention's
POPS Review Committee and the Rotterdam Convention's Chemical Review
Committee. This is a "clear conflict of interest", she says, "a
manufacturer is using its power to veto international agreements on a
chemical."

"Chemicals like endosulfan that are toxic, bioaccumulative and so
persistent that they contaminate our bodies, our babies and the
environment have no place in agriculture. We are calling on all
governments and industries that still use, manufacture or trade in
endosulfan to follow Bayer example and cease to profit from this toxic
poison,"  said Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, Co-Chair of the International
POPs Elimination Network.

Available for interviews:

Medha Chandra, Pesticide Action Network North America, mchandra@panna.org, 415-981-1771.

Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network North America, kristins@panna.org, 408-836-8189.

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PANNA (Pesticide Action Network North America) works to replace pesticide use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. As one of five autonomous PAN Regional Centers worldwide, we link local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens' action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to ensure the transition to a just and viable society.

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