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India’s Supreme Court has ordered a temporary ban on the production, sale and use of controversial pesticide Endosulfan.

Admitting a petition filed by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), youth wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), seeking country-wide ban on sale and production of Endosulfan in its present form or any other derivatives in the domestic market, a Division Bench of the apex court issued an interim order on Friday banning Endosulfan for the next eight weeks, considering the harmful effects of the pesticide on human beings and the environment.

Holding that human life is more important than anything else, the Bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia directed the government to freeze the production licenses granted to the manufacturers of the toxic pesticide until further orders.

The court ordered two separate detailed studies by medical and scientific experts on the adverse effects of Endosulfan on human life and environment in the meantime.

The expert committees have been asked to advise the court on the need to ban the pesticide or eliminate its existing stock, and if there is any alternative to Endosulfan.

Already banned in 81 countries, including the United States, European Union member -states, Brazil and Canada, Endosulfan is still extensively used in India, despite public anger and media reports on serious health hazards caused in the Kasaragod district of the southern-most state of Kerala.

An off-patent organochlorine insecticide and acaricide, Endosulfan can disrupt the functions of the endocrine and nervous systems. Exposure to the chemical that is sprayed on cashew plantations in southern India left many people with physical deformities, while the petitioner said boys affected by Endosulfan risk delays in attaining sexual maturity.

Late last month, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) had reached a near-consensus on banning the production and use of Endosulfan and its isomers worldwide, with the lone opponent of the ban of the pesticide – India – seeking exemption.

The POP Review Committee decided to recommend a ban on Endosulfan after considering the potential risk involved in the wide use of the highly-toxic pesticide.

India demanded a financial package to make up for the huge economic loss as a result of the ban.

India was completely isolated at the convention, as all the other countries were in favor of a ban during intense negotiations over how the parties to the Stockholm Convention must deal with Endosulfan.

However, no country is legally bound to implement recommendations of the Stockholm Convention.

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