We work to protect wildlife, our natural environment and human health by eradicating the most dangerous toxic pesticides, such as endosulfan, which find their way into our air, soil and water sources and can cause chronic impacts to human health wildlife.
We work to protect wildlife, our natural environment and human health by eradicating the most dangerous toxic pesticides, such as endosulfan, which find their way into our air, soils and water sources and can cause chronic impacts to human health and wildlife.
Pesticides are hazardous by design and commonly do not discriminate between their target and non-target species; unintended impacts on human health include hormone disruption, birth defects, cancers, autism and Alzheimers. Many of the most tragic consequences of an over-reliance on outdated and dangerous chemical pesticides are in the Global South where regulations, awareness and safety controls are weak or altogether absent. Pesticides have been linked to the collapse of species such as bees, fish, bats and birds. Some are ‘persistent organic pollutants’ (POPs), such as DDT, which can last for decades in the environment. The residues of one POP, endosulfan, have been found in the Arctic and the Himalayas miles from where they were applied, and in tissue samples taken from species ranging from vultures to minke whales and crocodiles.
EJF’s Pesticides Campaign raises public, industry and political awareness of the most dangerous pesticides. We have secured national bans on endosulfan and in 2011 worked alongside an international coalition to secure a global ban on endosulfan under the Stockholm Convention. We have shown how children working in cotton fields are exposed to some of the world's most toxic chemicals, with tragic results.
EJF's work on pesticides dates back to 2000, when we worked in Cambodia to highlight the growing need for better farmer awareness of the potential dangers of chemical pesticides, and to support the traditional and organic alternatives that are financially viable and ecological sustainable.
In 2002, EJF worked with Cambodian NGO CEDAC to document the widespread use of endosulfan, sprayed liberally by farmers wearing no protective masks or clothing, often close to children, the family home, livestock and family food crops.
Endosulfan was a deadly poison in daily use, a highly toxic organochlorine insecticide from the same family as the notorious DDT. Endosulfan was used on a range of crops including cotton. Residues and breakdown products have been documented in remote regions including the Himalayas and the Arctic, and its samples taken from a diverse range of species, including minke whales, polar bears and vultures.
Endosulfan is toxic to most living organisms and in humans, chronic exposure was linked to infertility, neurological disorders and physical deformities. Acute exposure was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.
Our report, The End of the Road for Endosulfan, documented the health and environmental impacts of this toxic chemical pesticide, together with the economically viable alternatives to endosulfan’s use. The report was launched at the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in Geneva in May 2009. Following the launch of the report, we met with the Cambodian Environment Minister who shortly afterwards announced an immediate ban on the use of endosulfan in Cambodia.
EJF’s work was cited in a proposal by the EU for endosulfan to be banned globally under the Stockholm Convention (which regulates DDT and other persistent organic pollutants) and several countries have also proposed that endosulfan be added to the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, which facilitates information exchange between governments on hazardous chemicals. The UN scientific committee agreed that endosulfan was a ‘persistant organic pollutant’ under the Stockholm Convention.
By the end of 2009, 60 countries had introduced national bans on endosulfan’s production and use. Working with NGO partners, EJF helped secure a public commitment from Bayer Cropscience to end the manufacture of endosulfan by the end of 2010.
EJF worked with major retailers to sign calls to action on endosulfan, including Debenhams, C&A, H&M, Mothercare, Mango, Next and the John Lewis Partnership (including Waitrose).
In 2011, more than 28,000 people from over 60 countries signed EJF’s petition to ban endosulfan. We received support from celebrities including writer Anita Nair, musician and composer Ravi Shankar, and Academy Award-nominated directors Deepa Mehta and M. Night Shyamalan.
On 29th April 2011, national delegates at the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention, ‘Chemical Challenges, Sustainable Solutions’, agreed to list endosulfan under Annex A of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The listing resulted in the global elimination of endosulfan.
In 2011, endosulfan was withdrawn from use in products by 1,800 European chocolate, biscuit and confectionery manufacturers.
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