Endosulfan pesticide Indias’ Cheap Alternative!

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Endosulfan became a highly controversial agrichemicals due to its acute toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor. Because of its threats to human health and the environment, a global ban on the manufacture and use of endosulfan was negotiated under the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The ban will take effect in mid 2012, with certain uses exempted for 5 more years. More than 80 countries, including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, several West African nations,  the United States,  Brazil, and Canada had already banned it or announced phase outs by the time the Stockholm Convention ban was agreed upon. It is still used extensively in India, China, and few other countries. It is produced by Makhteshim Agan and several manufacturers in India and China.

Cheap, effective and highly toxic Endosulfan pesticide is banned in most countries, but still widely embraced by farmers in India. While the government claims there is no affordable alternative to the chemical, families are paying a high price.

­Until recently, India was one of the few countries in the world that allowed the use of Endosulfan. The agriculture ministry says there is no other cheap alternative to the powerful pesticide. But finally, after mounting pressure at home and abroad, the Supreme Court voted on an eight-week ban on the pesticide which is set to expire in mid-July.

The use of the pesticide has resulted in serious consequences, with a whole generation of children suffering devastating health problems. Umaibath Sariya’s body is the size of a baby, but in reality, she is five years old. In her short life, she has endured an operation to reduce the size of her abnormally large head. And she is not the only one suffering like this. “The doctor said that we have to put a tube into our child’s head otherwise there would be complications,” says Hajira Kaithdu, Sariya’s mother. And Sariya’s mother thinks she knows what has caused it.

In the cashew plantations in India’s southern state of Kerala, the government sprayed the highly-controversial pesticide Endosulfan on the crops during the 90s, which locals say has led to a generation of deformed children. Victims groups believe there are around 9,000 children like Sariya, with swollen heads, and developing at only half the rate they should.

For some women that prospect is too much and they opt for abortion, sometimes disturbingly late. “My daughter was operated on in the eighth month of her pregnancy,” says M.K. Leela Kumari Amma, an advocate for Endosulfan victims.

While studies show that Endosulfan causes severe developmental and reproductive problems in humans and animals, proponents of the pesticide say their rivals are the ones pushing this ban. “This pressure is only from the EU because the EU has various newly invented products which are waiting to enter the market,” states Pradip Dave, a representative of the Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India.

But the families of the sick feel that they have been forgotten for long enough. “There is no value for a human life, it’s all about the money,” Amma says. “People don’t care about each other these days. People who have money are categorized as high caste and the poor people are counted as low caste and nobody cares whether we are dead or alive”. The families are drained, emotionally and financially – their life savings wiped out to care for their severely disabled children. “I feel very sad when I see my child like this. Though it’s disturbing, we have to tolerate it,” says E.K. Mohammed Lami, father of an Endosulfan victim.

There is little point waiting for government relief as repeated requests seem to fall on deaf ears in the capital. All these families can do is to make the most of the short lives their disfigured children will have. Most will die before their 20th birthday.

There is no mercy! When pesticides are used to save the Nut [Cashew] Plantation,  because it is a cheap solution to an expensive problem, and saving Nuts, is all about money, and what is cheap, versus the preservation of life!

The Act to Legalize Marijuana

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Has the time come to legalize marijuana? Over the last 50 years users have called for this to happen!

Lawmakers in DC will be presented with a bill today that could legalize marijuana across the US. When the legislation is introduced to the House, it will mark the first ever bill proposed to Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) are spearheading the legislation, with Reps Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) all co-sponsors of the proposal. Though it is being billed as “bipartisan legislation,” Ron Paul is the only Republican that has so far signed-on. He has made the legalization of marijuana one of the priorities of his 2012 presidential run.

Speaking on Wednesday, Congresswoman Lee said, “The human cost of the failed drug war has been enormous – egregious racial disparities, shattered families, poverty, public health crises, prohibition-related violence, and the erosion of civil liberties.”  Lee added that in the 40 years since President Richard Nixon launched his “war on drugs,” the US has spent over a trillion dollars to incarcerate millions of young people on drug charges.

An average of 800,000 people are arrested each year on marijuana charges.

“I co-sponsored this bipartisan legislation because I believe it is time to turn the page from this failed drug war,” Lee added.

Speaking to LA Weekly, former cop and head of law Enforcement Against Prohibition Neill Franklin says, “Making marijuana illegal hasn’t prevented anyone from using it, but it has created a huge funding source that funnels billions of dollars in tax-free profits to violent drug cartels and gangs.”

“More and more cops now agree: Legalizing marijuana will improve public safety.”

If legislation passes, the federal government will still be able to enforce cross-border and inter-state smuggling, however, they will have no say in the growing or selling or marijuana in the states that allow it.

Sixteen states across America and the District of Columbia have so far legalized marijuana usage for medical purposes, but the planting, selling and commercial distribution of pot is still a federal crime.

Earlier this month authorities raided five medical marijuana dispensaries in Fresno County, California, leaving many patients with legitimate pot prescriptions smoking mad.

If Marijuana is legalized, will this have cause to release many people from prison due to their use, sale of marijuana previous to this new law? Case in point;

In Louisiana 35-year-old Cornell Hood II received life in prison following his fourth marijuana conviction under a controversial repeat-offender law.

Hood was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He had been convicted of the same crime three prior times, each time receiving a suspended five-year sentence and five years of probation. However, when Hood’s probation officer made a routine visit to Hood’s home he found about two pounds of marijuana. Deputies were alerted and Hood arrested.

At trial he was convicted of possession with intent to distribute, which usually carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, but the Judge sentenced Hood to life in prison following arguments by the prosecutor that his repeat history deemed Hood a career criminal.

In Louisiana drug offenders may be subject to life in prison after being convicted of any three or more drug charges which could carry a sentence of at least 10 years.