Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Stockholm Convention is first ever-concerted global effort to save mankind from the adverse impact of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP). It was called in 1995 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), following its study on the Dirty Dozen. The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) prepared an assessment of dirty dozen. The negotiations began in 2001 and the convention came into being in 2004 after ratification by 128 parties.

The convention calls to outlaw nine of the dirty dozen chemicals, limit the use of DDT to malaria control, and curtail inadvertent production of dioxins and furans. As of January 2011, there are 172 parties to the Convention.

  • The convention listed twelve distinct chemicals in three categories in the beginning.
  • These includes 8 pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene); two industrial chemicals (poly chlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene) and two unintended byproducts (poly chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzo furans, commonly referred to as dioxins and furans).
  • Countries are required to make efforts to identify, label and remove PCB-containing equipment by the year 2025, and manage the wastes in an environmentally sound manner, not later than 2028.
  • The Convention also seeks to continue minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination of the releases of unintentionally produced POPs, such as dioxins and furans. Stockpiles and wastes containing POPs must be managed and disposed off in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner, taking into account international rules, standards and guidelines. Each Party is required to develop a plan for implementing its obligations under the Convention.

India and Stockholm Convention:

India’s Union Cabinet gave its approval to ratify and accede to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants on 20 October 2005.

The Convention will enable India to avail technical and financial assistance for implementing measures to meet the obligations of the Convention.

Stockholm Convention and Endusulphan:

Endosulphan is used as an organochlorine insecticide and acaricide (killing tickes and mites). Endosulphan belongs to organochlorine group of pesticides such as DDT. It causes endocrine disruption and neurotoxic impacts. It is also supposed to be a genotoxic and may lead to genetic mutation, however, it has not been found to be a carcinogenic.

  • Because of its threats to environment as a POP, it is banned in more than 63 countries but still is widely used.
  • In India it is produced by Hindustan Insecticides Limited.

Currently, a global ban on the use and manufacture of endosulfan is being considered under the Stockholm Convention.

  • India is the largest user of Endosulphan.

In India, Endosulphan was put on hold in Kerala due to some peculiar health impacts seen after aerial spray of in Cashew Plantations in Kerala. In other states there are approved manners of usage. There have been conflicting views on the usage and impacts of Endosulphan. The officials say that there is lack of full scientific certainty about its health and environment impacts. However, the environment activists say that the nexus of the government with the insecticide lobby leads to the stern stand of the Government.

  • India’s stand was not clear in the Persistent Organic Pollutants’ Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention that began in Geneva, Switzerland that held in October 2010.

In India, the Kerala Government demanded the ban on the pesticide as at least a few hundred people have died of poisoning caused by the chemical. Many face a wide range of genetic abnormalities and other health problems.

Mayee committee

Mayee committee was established by the United Democratic Front government in the state and it established that no link had been established between the use of Endosulfan in the cashew plantations of the State-owned Plantation Corporation of Kerala and the health problems. So it was the state Government that sent this report to center. But after that things have changed a lot. The Mayee committee had recommended the conduct of a comprehensive, well-designed and detailed health and epidemiological study in the entire plantation area. However, nothing was done in that direction for the past five years.

  • However, the Non Governmental agencies have found that in Kasaragod district in Kerala, sustained exposure to Endosulfan resulted in congenital, reproductive, long-term neurological damage and other symptoms. There were observations of similar effects in animals: cows giving birth to deformed calves, cows and chickens dying inexplicably, domestic animals with miscarriages, bleeding, infertility, stunting of growth and deformities, as well as fish kills and dwindling populations of honeybees frogs and birds.
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