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The Endosulfan Controversy In Padre Community Kasargod Kerala


A raging controversy has been taking place about the aerial spraying of Endosulfan, an organochlorine, pesticide in the cashew plantations of Enmakaje Panchayat in Kasargod region of Kerala and its own role in the causation of high morbidity and increased prevalence of congenital malformations and malignancies in the region. Nothing of the studies conducted could actually exonerate the pesticide from its unsafe role and the apex court docket in the state of hawaii has bought interim stick to the utilization of Endosulfan. A team of IMA office bearers and experts have seen the area and made a preliminary examination. The high morbidity anticipated to respiratory and dermatological conditions and the high prevalence of congenital malformations, Central stressed system afflictions and malignancies were evidently clear. Taking a look at all the possible triggers, the suspicion of blame clearly falls on the common aerial spray of Endosulfan, happening in the area for more than the past two decades. The reversal of some of the changes on withdrawing the spray for days gone by 2 yrs further supports this state. The pesticide lobby appears to be strongly against the cause of the villages, as it is noticeable that accepting the case of the villagers may wreak havoc on the business interests. This may add momentum to the motions demanding global ban on Endosulfan this means losses to the tune of crores of rupees to the manufacturers. One point is certainly that the villagers of Padre have high morbidity and handicap. It is merely the genuine responsibility of the medical profession to intervene in that situation to fetch them help. Activism to establish the reason for the morbidity and methods, both curative and rehabilitative, to ease their sufferings assume equal importance in this situations.


The lay press and marketing are flooded with news items and tales about a tiny village in the Karnataka boundary of Kasargod district. The small distant community, Padre in Kasargod has truly gone in to lime light for its tragic condition in terms of morbidity to the majority of its inhabitants, especially the young and in successful generation, that the villagers vehemently attribute to the irrational use of Endosulfan- a pesticide found in abundant quantities as aerial spray in the cashew plantations owned by the state of hawaii owned Plantation Firm of Kerala (PCK). Several committees and experts have researched the problem from various perspectives and the studies even go to the magnitude of contradictions in a variety of aspects. One major disadvantage attributed to the vast majority of the studies is the absence of adequate medical competence in examining the morbidity and health conditions of the populace and seeking to evolve a cause effect relationship predicated on epidemiologic evaluations. Indian Medical Relationship (IMA), the greatest company of Modern Physicians in India gets the proclaimed mission affirmation of involving in a variety of issues related to the fitness of the population. IMA Kerala Point out Branch, the most significant IMA condition branch in the country has never shied away from the issues of the community and it was decided to look into the issue impartially. On this record, a four member team from IMA led by Dr. P. V. Ramachandran, Vice President Of IMA Kerala Point out and Dr. V. Mohanan Nair, Convener, IMA Research Cell visited the town on 25th September 2002. Dr. K. M. Venkatagiri, from. Kasargod branch of IMA and Dr. N. Raghavan from Kanhangad branch of IMA, both participants of Express working committee, were the other users in the team. The team found various important people in the area, visited a few of the homeowners with affected people as well as the area outside the plantation implicated in the tragedy.

Endosulfan - the facts?

Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide and functions as a contact poison in a multitude of bugs and mites. It is effective against a multitude of pests on cereals, caffeine, cotton, fruit, oil seed products, potato, tea, veggie and other crops. It really is sold as an assortment of two different types of the same chemical substance (alpha and beta Endosulfan) and is also cream to dark brown in coloring and gets the smell of turpentine. It really is a highly toxic material and the WHO classifies Endosulfan in Category II (moderately hazardous) structured mainly on the LD 50 value considered form the manufacturer, whereas the united states Environmental Protection Company (US EPA) classifies it as Category 1b (highly hazardous) pesticide. Endosulfan is easily assimilated in the tummy, by the lungs and through your skin meaning that any of these routes can cause risk to humans. Thus exposure can occur when breathed through air (when sprayed), normal water contaminated with it, eating contaminated food, touching polluted soil, smoking cigarettes made from cigarette with Endosulfan residue or employed in a business where Endosulfan can be used. Stimulation of Central Nervous system is the most important acute poisonous feature of the pesticide. People with low proteins diets tend to be sensitive to the consequences.

Long-term toxicity of the chemical is also somewhat well documented. Toxicity on kidneys, on intrauterine fetuses, on liver and suppression of immunity are well recorded. Organochlorine compounds including DDT and Endosulfan are also implicated in the causation of reduction in quality of semen, increase in the occurrence of testicular and prostatic tumor, increase in defects of male sex organs and upsurge in incidence of breasts cancer.

The compound has undesireable effects on the surroundings and it is highly toxic to seafood, birds, fowls, animals and bees. It really is founded that Endosulfan may run off soon after spraying to surface water and might not reach the ground water. Despite swift degradation in water, it can bind to dirt allergens and persist for a comparatively long period. While its fifty percent life in water & most fruits / vegetables is 3 to 7 days, in sandy loam its half life is 60 to 800 times. The malfunction product Endosulfan Sulphate is also dangerous and more prolonged than the father or mother compound and accounts for 90% of residue in 11 weeks. Sulphate development increases as heat range increases and this should be borne in mind with all the chemical substance in the tropics. The amount of pollution it causes as Persistent Organic and natural Pollutant (POP) continues to be vague and that is the grounds under which the chemical is generally being used as pesticide. At least ten countries have

completely banned the use of Endosulfan, including Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Singapore. Its use within rice areas is prohibited in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand. Its use is severely limited in Canada, Finland, UK, Kuwait. While umpteen range of scientists representing pesticide lobby have tried out to trivialize the destruction that endosulfan is known to be capable of doing, it was only once, several experts came from Philippines, which could get endosulfan banned only after long drawn legal battles. The team of experts led by Teacher Romeo F. Quijano, Co-Chair,

International Persistent Organic and natural Pollutants Reduction Network (IPEN) and member, Pesticide Action Network Steering Council validated that the health problems at villages in Kasargod are most probably triggered by the pesticide Endosulfan. Dr. Romeo, who is Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University or college of Philippines, is complex specialist to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Agricultural Office as well as the Health Office in the Republic of Philippines. The Philippine Administration has not only banned endosulfan since 1994 and has been pushing for the addition of endosulfan in the set of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for global removal as provided for in the Stockholm Convention, 2001. Several countries are also planning to

ban the utilization of Endosulfan and worldwide plan had been happening for

several years to ban the utilization of this Organochlorine pesticide.

Several cases of acute poisoning and loss of life anticipated to Endosulfan have been reported from various parts of the world. One of the reports with significant casualty have been from the province of Borgou recorded by the official options in Benin in Africa. Farmers using endoisulfan as a cotton pesticide in Benin acquired reported dramatic effects on the surroundings at large. One farmer in the Borgou province explained that: 'Earthworms emerged from the ground, and subsequently died. Then, birds came up to eat the earthworms plus they perished as well. Another farmer in the Banikoara region witnessed the break-up of the food string by endosulfan: 'Some termites were wiped out in a cotton plantation sprayed by endosulfan. A frog fed on the lifeless termites, and was immobilized a few momemts later. An owl which flew over saw the immobilized frog, found it as a victim, and then sat on the tree branch to take pleasure from its meal. 10 minutes later, the owl dropped down and perished.

Havoc in Padre, Kasargod, Kerala

The different clustering of congenital malformations, malignancies and increased morbidity anticipated to epilepsy and respiratory system disorders was recognized by Dr. Y. S. Mohan Kumar, today's medical practitioner in Padre village in Enmakaje Grama Panchayat of Kasargod. He previously been rehearsing in the region for nearly two decades. Further, he noticed that the congenital malformations and malignancies struck mainly the residents on both the sides of a stream "Kodenkiri thodu" moving down the Western Ghat hills on top of the reaches of which will be the cashew plantations held by the PCK. The neighborhood inhabitants used to feature these to the curse of a local deity, Jatadhari, the guardian nature (theyyam). Well before the current controversies Dr. Mohan Kumar has portrayed his specialized medical suspicion about the presence of some obnoxious product like some minerals or radiation in the stream normal water which may be playing damage. Later some environmentalists, up to date local farmers and journalists signed up with Dr. Mohan Kumar plus they attributed the added morbidity and the increased incidence of congenital malformations and malignancy to the rampant and injudicious use of Endosulfan as aerial squirt in the cashew plantations in the region. In various places along Kerala - Karnataka, the Plantation Organization of Kerala ( PCK) sprays endosulfan two-three times each year (between Dec and March) through helicopter to avoid tea-mosquito assault to cashew inflorescence. From 1963 to 1980, it was spraying endrin

( a substance in disrepute now, as an associate of grubby dozen of Persisitent Organic Pollutants ( POP ) and from 1980, endosulphan has been sprayed. Nearly 4, 600 hectares of Cashew Garden has been sprayed with this hazardous chemical. THE ORGANIZATION is supposed to temporarily cover all this inflatable water sources like dug-wells, tanks etc. , before spraying. It hardly ever takes this protective measures, as has been corroborated by various elected physiques and district supervision in addition to the persistent problems by local villagers. One of the local residents fought an one-woman war against spraying of Endosulfan and this was the ignition point for today's protest against the current agitations. Repeated views from apex centers like National research middle for Cashew, Puttur, Karnataka, whose chief has many times requested his co-workers to avoid the continuous, unscientific use of same pesticide for 25 % century has also fallen in deaf years of PCK sponsored experts and committees.

The available evidences show obviously that the sort of morbidity and congenital malformations reported in the region well suit with the reported toxicity of the pesticide. The committee constituted by the government to look into the matter once more reiterated this. The most recent committee headed by the renowned environmentalist Dr. A. Achuthan plainly said that the one irregular activity in the area of high morbidity, which has no causes of industrial or other pollutions, was aerial spraying of endosulfan. Though it is difficult to prove the cause effect relationship of chronic low medication dosage environmental poisons and miseries of living beings, the committee clearly opined that absence of proof can not be considered as proof absence. Regardless as the Achuthan committee has said " the onus of responsibility to verify or disprove the reason effect marriage should be that of the polluter and and not of everyone who will be the subjects of the pollution ".

IMA team in the village

The IMA team satisfied Dr. Mohan Kumar, some of the activists in the forefront of the have difficulty, several of the local residents, several influenced homes and also been to the Kodenkiri stream in the outskirts of the cashew plantations. It had been a preliminary simple fact finding quest and an epidemiologic analysis of the problem had not been attempted at. Even then, we're able to find enough anecdotal evidences to think that there is sufficient justification in the problems lifted by the villagers. It is shown certainly that the village has better morbidity and incidence of congenital malformations, malignancies and CNS diseases like seizure disorders, when compared to any of its counterparts in the area or over the whole state. There is no other industrial or alternative activities in the area, other than the Endosulfan spraying, that could be attributed to the causation of the situation.

The villagers have a spot. How?

A meticulous medical analysis of the situation clearly demonstrates the villagers have a point. Let us study a few of them:

Almost every one of the people affected with congenital malformations in the region are all below age 30 years, the length of aerial squirt of Endosulfan in the region.

The chronic morbidity including malignancies found in the region, fit well with the identified and authenticated side effects of the pesticide.

Anecdotal descriptions about the environmental problems sited by the villagers all buy into the toxic effects of Endosulfan. They have got described that the local streams and water collections forget about breed any fish and frogs have vanished from the area for the past few years. The toxicity of Endosulfan on these sets of living organisms is well noted. Before in the town, bee keeping was a way of supplementing family members income in a number of homeowners and the bees have entirely disappeared from the region. ( That is when Pesticide lobby perpetuates that endosulfan is the most bee friendly pesticide! )

Putting the matter in reverse is also evidence providing. After the judge stay, no spraying has occurred before two 2 years and after an extended distance frogs have came out in the community. Similarly, bees have also started appearing plus some of the hives are productive now. These evidences evidently show the result of Endosulfan in the flora and fauna of the region.

Even the existence of "tea mosquitoes" in the plantations, against which the pesticide is applied is not demonstrated beyond doubt.

Sufficient studies about the produce of crops in the absence and existence of pesticide use also have not been done. No production study has have you been reported by PCK. A number of the locals declare that the plantations experienced bumper crops this past year, when spraying had not been done.

Several studies have exhibited high content of Endosulfan in earth and water in your community. The simultaneous prevalence of this high degree of pollutant and the disease conditions attributed to it may well not be sufficient to elucidate a cause effect romance. Neither would it not be possible to conduct a longitudinal study in the region to conclude on its causation. Still there are points that sufficiently justify the blame on the pesticide for the causation of the morbidity in the region. Kodenkiri stream which is signed up with by other streams growing from the hills atop that your plantations are, was shown to contain high content of residual Endosulfan. Despite the fact that ground water may well not be polluted by Endosulfan, this has not much of relevance in the region where the sources of drinking water will be the streams and surangas that have close contacts with the stream. We discovered that lots of the drinking water options are closely connected with the stream and the stream itself is the source for several homes. Additionally, from a general population health viewpoint it is plainly shown that there is a specific and evident dosage response romance in the prevalence of morbidity and congenital malformations as we travel from the source of the stream downhill. Household close to the foundation of the stream have maximum prevalence of malformations and the number of members afflicted and the gravity of affliction also wean down as we travel down the banking companies of the stream. Additionally hardly any home is spared on the finance institutions of this stream. There is no other factor attributable or can act as a confounder in this field where maximum homeowners endure the brunt.

Very well in advance of the present controversies, the teachers in the neighborhood school have identified that the children from the backside of the plantations have physical and intellectual problems. This is visible in the files of the minutes of University Resource Group, a group of Headmaster and educators that monitor the activities and progress of the school. Moreover the type of intellectual impairment described should go well with the defined toxicity of the pesticide.

The prevalence of consanguinity is not so high in the area and cannot straight be attributed in the causation of congenital malformations.

Another very strong point towards blaming the pesticide is the fact that majority of the congenital malformations are in those who were born after the practice of aerial spray has started out.

Once thinking backwards products, the morbidity anticipated to respiratory problems, especially serious asthmatic episodes and skin area problems have considerably come down after preventing spraying for days gone by two years. That is evidenced in the hospital records of the area and also in the anecdotal descriptions provided by the locals.

The basic assumptions in the Koch's postulates to non-conclusively implicate an organism in the causation of a disease may be true of other causal factors also. If on the drawback of your suspected pollutant, the attributed morbidity also disappears it is only methodical elucidation to attribute the blame to the pollutant in question. This is more so in a town like Padre where no other confounder have been picked up till day.

Why Padre is not being spared?

To unsuspecting less mortals, the level of resistance shown by the authorities and the pesticide lobby may be beyond comprehension. Initially the authorities of the Plantation Corporation were very vehement in denying the attributable cause of the pesticide. They have got even attended the idea of offence and determined some follies. For the reason that process they acquired some statements on paper from the "affected or their parents" saying that the diseases weren't brought on by Endosulfan!!! One point disregarded in the process was the ability of these visitors to vouch on the causation of disease that even the most supplicated experts are finding it difficult to pin down on. Interviews with some of the people who authorized such "customer reviews" clearly revealed that these were made sign some papers without any knowledge and additional manipulations may have occurred in them. However the force with that your Company was defending has drop. Now the only real stakeholder seems to be the pesticide lobby. For the coffee lover it isn't the matter of your village and its morbidity. Immediately or indirectly taking the attributed role of Endosulfan in the causation of the health problems in the village would have more serious repercussions on their business pursuits. The ongoing movements world over to ban the use of Endosulfan may gain momentum, if the Padre tragedy is accepted as triggered by the pesticide which has shown all the features of a Persistent Organic Pollutant. It is well known that the list of POPs is not complete and newer substances will define to enter in the list in approaching years. Permant ban on Endosulfan means reduction to the melody of an incredible number of crores to the manufacturers. It is reported that out of a total global use of 50 million liters of endosulfan, Indian talk about alone is of 10 million liters.

Actually, these possible repercussions are forcing the pesticide lobby to deal with the genuine cause of the inhabitants of Padre with all the weapons in their armamentarium. The economical and business interests of the pesticide lobby is stake and this is evident in a number of instances in the past couple of months when the controversy was at its helm. The comparability with some other plantations are irrelevant, because of non availalbility of morbidity data from such areas and uncommon characteristics of the geographic surfaces with a great deal of open water bodies like streams ( that are impossible for ) and water tunnels ( Surangas ) which come from Ghats to join the streams. Defence of the pesticide by citing use within large areas in Maharashtra without high morbidity reports is comparable to the argument help with with respect to endosulfan fatalities of Western Africa, checking it to Australia where morbidity is not reported. It's been reported that "cotton growing conditions and socio-economic conditions vary enormously between Australia and Western Africa. Australian cotton is irrigated, and produced on huge farms of several hundreds to thousands of hectares. Cotton areas are well demarcated, and cotton is the only real crop in the areas. Cattle do not roam around in cotton domains, nor eat cotton stalks left by the end of the growing season. Packaging materials are destroyed alternatively than being re-used. And if farmers need pesticides for just about any specific insect infestations for the production or storage area of food crops, they can buy them in specialised retailers. Also, as pesticides are relatively inexpensive in Australia, there may be less pressure to work with left-over products on food crops. " The comparison suits ultimately to Padre and Maharashtra also in all aspects, except that it's cashew in Padre instead of Cotton.

Padre deserves medical help and rehabilitation

Above all the controversies related to Endosulfan one point is superior. Padre is a town with very high morbidity. Proving the point of question may go a long way in preventing such catastrophes. But the medical profession gets the moral obligation to wait to this morbidity and address the handicap created in the community. Thus rehabilitative measures assume similar importance to precautionary actions. No civilized community and medical job can turn a blind attention to the individual hurting in the town. It is about time that medical career rise to the occasion to fetch help the hapless lot in the community. Not only if the profession interact the activism to scientifically evaluate the role of Endosulfan in to the causation of the tragedy in Padre but also should become a member of rates to fetch them medical help, social and monetary support and rehabilitative strategies.

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