Green groups push for return of pesticide shipment
- Rhodina Villanueva () - June 13, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Concerned environmentalists and health groups urged the outgoing Arroyo administration yesterday to ship out some 10 metric tons of the highly toxic pesticide endosulfan back to its Israeli manufacturer.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirmed last Thursday with the EcoWaste Coalition that the endosulfan retrieved from the sunken M.V. Princess of the Stars in October 2008 are still in a private storage in Meycuayan, Bulacan despite the government’s “return to sender” order.

DENR Memorandum Circular 2009-02 banned, albeit temporarily, the importation, distribution and use of endosulfan in the country, citing the need “to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk hazards on its continued use.”

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the Eco­Waste Coalition made the call following a groundbreaking announcement last Wednesday by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end all uses of endosulfan.

The US EPA’s 2010 revised ecological risk assessment shows that endosulfan “can pose unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farm workers and wildlife and can persist in the environment.”

“The US EPA decision is expected to energize push for a worldwide ban on the manufacture, trade and use of endosulfan. This highly toxic pesticide has been linked to birth, developmental and reproductive disorders and other serious health impacts and deaths among farmers and rural communities in Asia and other continents, including indigenous communities in the Artic,” said toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano, president of PAN-Philippines.

Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition, said, “There is no time to waste. We do not want the endosulfan stocks to aggravate our toxic woes. Let us get rid of this dangerous agrochemical, once and for all, and not wait for a chemical disaster to strike and cause health and environmental damage.”

Environment watchdogs have earlier asked Del Monte Philippines Inc., the consignee for the endosulfan shipment, and the government through the Task Force M/V Princess of the Stars to return the shipment to Makhteshim Agan to prevent a possible waste disposal crisis. The Philippines has no facility for safely treating organochlorine pesticides that will not create toxic byproducts such as dioxins.

Endosulfan is already banned in more than 60 countries around the world, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, several African countries and all 27 members of European Union. A global ban on endosulfan is currently being pursued under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a United Nations treaty.

DEL MONTE PHILIPPINES INC DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DR. ROMY QUIJANO ENDOSULFAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY EUROPEAN UNION GLOBAL ALLIANCE INCINERATOR ALTERNATIVES MAKHTESHIM AGAN MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS
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