FPA confirms pullout of endosulfan in Bukidnon

Danilo Negre,  FPA provincial coordinator, said as of his last plant inspection in the first week of November 2008, that the company had completed the pullout of the chemical following the province's passage of an ordinance banning the use and transport of the chemical in Bukidnon.

Bukidnon banned endosulfan in August 2008 at the height of investigations on the sinking of Sulpicio Lines' M/V Princess of the Stars.

The ill-fated ship that sank on June 20, 2008 carried 10,000 kilos of endosulfan reported to be enough for Del Monte's one year supply.

The city of Malaybalay has also passed a resolution urging the FPA not to renew its authorization for endosulfan upon its expiration.

The pullout came ahead of the December 31, 2008 expiration of the 3-year authorization issued by the FPA Board to DMPI and Dole, allowing the companies restricted use of the chemical since 1993, Negre told MindaNews  on February 4.

Negre said the firm now uses actellic and orthos, identified as alternatives to endosulfan.   But actellic is more commonly used, Negre added.

He described the chemicals as less effective to control mites that cause pink diseases, so there is a need for more dosage.

"It is more expensive, too.  But it is safer (than endosulfan)," he added.

He said the two chemicals are still "environmentally hazardous" although not as much as endosulfan.

He said unlike endosulfan, actellic and orthos are non-POPs (persistent organic pollutants).POPs, such as endosulfan,  are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulates through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment

In August 2008, Sonia Calleja, FPA 10 regional director identified the two as "possible viable alternatives" although she cited some problems on testing.

Glenn Peduche, chair of the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan's committee on environmental protection confirmed the pull out.

"If it's true, well I'm happy to hear that… One less environmental problem on our shoulders," said Councilor Melchor Maramara, who chairs the committee on environmental protection of the Malaybalay City Council.

DMPI used endosulfan in its at least 27,000 hectares of pineapple plantation in Bukidnon, including a portion in Malaybalay City.

Agricultural companies have been using endosulfan, first sold in the Philippines in the 1960s.

It has been found effective in controlling mites that cause the pink disease in pineapples. A suspected endocrine disruptor; endosulfan has been linked to autism, birth defects and abnormalities.

In 1993, was restricted for institutional use in the Philippines.

The chemical has been considered for global elimination under the U.N. Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants or the Stockholm Convention to which the Philippines is a signatory.

 The FPA decided to phase out endosulfan from the market because of its toxicity and as an aquatic pollutant. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)