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DA urged to ban highly toxic pesticide

MANILA, April 11 — Over 135 public interest groups Monday asked the government to impose a permanent ban on endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, and to actively back a global move to have it eliminated for good to protect the public health and the environment.

Through a petition letter, the groups, led by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN), urged tough action against the said pesticide ahead of a crucial intergovernmental meeting that is expected to seal the fate of endosulfan.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will meet on April 25-29 in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss matters related to the implementation of the treaty, including the recommendation by a panel of scientific experts to ban endosulfan.

The UN POPs Review Committee (POPRC) last year recommended to add endosulfan, after a rigorous process for evaluating the said chemical, to Annex A of the treaty as a new POP for worldwide elimination.

The "AlerToxic Patrol" volunteers of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats) brought the petition letter to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The petitioners, which include a broad set of environmental health, climate justice and sustainable development advocates, asked Secretary Proceso Alcala to be in step with nations who will soon make a historic decision of adding endosulfan to the POPs treaty, which will eventually lead to its elimination from global use.

Numerous assessments of the human health and ecological risks of endosulfan by governments, academics and citizens’ groups, including testimonies from pollution victims, have confirmed the toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent characteristics of endosulfan, the groups said.

A formal ban on endosulfan, the groups insisted, will bolster the “temporary ban” on the importation, distribution and use of endosulfan under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Memorandum Circular 2009-02 “to protect the public health from any undesirable risks (and) hazards on the use of endosulfan.”

The groups told Secretary Alcala that the decision to ban endosulfan should be “easy, non-contentious and defensible” as the Philippines has no registered use anymore for endosulfan.

Del Monte and Dole pineapple companies, the only two entities previously permitted to import and use endosulfan, have already switched to alternative pesticides following the deadly M.V. Princess of the Stars maritime tragedy in 2008 where some 10 metric tons of endosulfan also went down with the ill-fated passenger ship. (PNA) DCT/FFC/PR/mec

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