Page 1

Living with Poison Problems of endosulfan in West African cotton growing systems

A report by: Laurent Camille Glin, Julienne Kuiseu, Abou Thiam, Davo Simplice VodouhĂŞ, Barbara Dinham, Simon Ferrigno

The following organisations carried out the country level studies that made this report possible. Benin Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB) Burkina Faso Association pour la Recherche et la Formation en Agro-écologie (ARFA) Cameroon Cameroon Pesticide Action Network (CAPANET) Mali Fondation pour le Développement du Sahel and AMPMIVI Senegal Pesticide Action Network Africa Additional research was carried out by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa, PAN UK and OBEPAB.

Research and publication support The organisations involved in this study would like to thank Comic Relief (Innovations Fund) for their financial support to carry out the research, and the European Commission (Pesticides and Poverty project of PAN UK and PAN Africa) which has made possible the additional research and publication.

Note on currency: The CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine or the African Financial Community) is used in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal (as well as Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Togo, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Congo, and the Comoro Islands). Previously linked to the French franc, it is now linked to the Euro. In May 2006, 1000 CFA = US$1.97

Published by Pesticide Action Network UK, Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London, EC2R 4LT, UK. © PAN UK - this report may be quoted without permission. Please quote source.

Contents 1 1 2 3 4 5 5 5 6 7 7 8 8 10 10 10 10 11 11 12 15 15 15 20 22 22 22 24 25 25 25 29 30 30 30 31 31 32 32 33 38 39 40 42

1 Introduction Widespread poisonings International support to reduce hazards Methodology Structure of this report 2 The cotton context in West Africa 2.1 Cotton - populations, profits and pesticides Cotton - economic importance Organisation of the cotton sector in Francophone West Africa Pesticides in West African cotton production - the costs Cotton pesticides end up in the wrong places - obsolete stockpiles 2.2 Countries and cotton Benin Burkina Faso Cameroon Mali Senegal 3 Pesticide use in West African cotton Bringing back endosulfan - creating problems Pesticides used in West African cotton 4 Context and evidence of poisonings 4.1 Acute poisonings: results of investigations 4.2 Benin - results of poisoning surveys 4.3 Senegal - results of poisoning surveys 4.4 Burkina Faso - results of poisoning surveys 4.5 Cameroon - results of poisoning surveys 4.6 Mali - results of poisoning surveys 4.7 Conculsion 5 Are poisoning incidents inevitable? 5.1 Living and working with pesticides 5.2 Pesticide storage and disposal 5.3 Treatments available - self-medication and hospital responses 5.4 Marketing and distribution practices that lead to incidents 5.5 Scarcity of pest management for 'orphan' crops and storage 5.6 How farming communities receive and use information 5.7 Essential or avoidable? - pest management options Cotton IPM initiatives Organic cotton 5.8 Conclusion 6 Conclusion Annex 1. Endosulfan fact sheet Annex 2. Precautions recommended to take before, during and after using pesticide products Annex 3. Reporting incidents of poisoning under the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Additional resources and contacts

Living With Poison


Living With Poison

Association pour la Recherche et la Formation en Agro-écologie (Burkina Faso) Village association (Benin) Cameroon Pesticide Action Network Centre d'action régionale pour le développement (Benin) Compagnie Française pour le Développement des Fibres Textiles (French textile fibre development company, now DAGRIS) Comité Permanent Inter Etats de Lutte Contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement Compagnie maliènne de développement textile (Mali) Développement des Agro Industries du Sud Environnement et Développement du Tiers Monde (Environmental Development Action in the Third World) Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Farmer field school Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Coton (Senegal) Gross Domestic Product Groupement des Producteurs de Coton (cotton sector include producer groups, Senegal) Insect Resistance Action Committee Institut Sénégalais de Recherche Agricole Non-governmental organisation Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique Office de la Haute Vallée du Niger (Mali) Pesticide Action Network Prior Informed Consent Persistent Organic Pollutants Projet Régional de Prévention et de Gestion des Résistances de Helicoverpa armigera aux pyréthrinoïdes en Afrique de l'Ouest Sénégalaise de Chimie Société de Développement du Coton du Cameroun Société de Développement des fibres Textiles (Senegal) Société Fibres et Textiles de Burkina (Burkina Faso) Société Nationale Pour la Promotion Agricole (Benin) Société des Produits Industriels et Agricoles (Senegal) Syndicat des Cotonniers et des Vivriers (Mali) World Health Organisation

1 Introduction In the cotton growing season spanning the years 1999-2000 in Benin, details slowly emerged about a large number of deaths among farmers and farming families related to pesticides in conventional cotton production. An investigation identified at least 37 deaths, and possibly as many as 70, linked to the pesticide endosulfan1. The tragedy followed the reintroduction of the pesticides endosulfan across West African cotton growing countries on the advice of agricultural research agencies, in an effort to combat insect pest resistance. Two NGOs, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Africa in Senegal and Organisation BĂŠninoise pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB) in Benin, developed a programme to investigate the impact in five cottongrowing countries. They identified local NGOs to investigate problems in a further three cotton-growing countries in the region: Burkina Faso (Association pour la Recherche et la Formation en AgroĂŠcologie - ARFA), Cameroon (Cameroon Pesticide Action Network - CAPANET) and Mali (Fondation pour le DĂŠveloppement du Sahel and AMPMIVI). Budget constraints meant that the most detailed research was conducted by the lead NGOs.

Widespread poisonings The problems of pesticide poisonings in developing countries are widely acknowledged. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that there are approximately three million instances a year, resulting in 20,000 unintentional deaths, largely in developing countries or among the rural poor2. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are between two and five million occupational cases of pesticide poisoning a year, with 40,000 fatalities3. Although classified as 'moderately hazardous' (category II)4 by the WHO, endosulfan has caused major health problems in developing countries5,6,7,8,9, as well as environmental concerns in developing countries and elsewhere10. Verifying poisonings figures is difficult, as work-related incidents are rarely reported and are often taken for granted by the pesticide users in developing countries. However there are an estimated 450 million waged agricultural workers worldwide, and a total global agricultural workforce of over 1.1 billion; a large proportion will regularly be exposed to hazardous pesticides. These poisonings are often debilitating, always unpleasant, and regularly experienced by millions of poor people in developing countries who use pesticides under conditions that would not be tolerated in industrial countries. This report provides an insight into the structures that bind farming communities into the use of toxic products and shows why these guesstimates may be an underestimate. While a range of pesticides are used in West African cotton production, the problems of poisonings came to light when the organochlorine insecticide endosulfan was reintroduced after insect pests became resistant to pyrethroids. In Benin, its introduction led to an escalation in deaths and ill-health. Studies in other cotton growing West African countries were initiated to investigate whether the impact was the same. The picture showed that while fatalities may have been lower elsewhere, poor conditions of use and levels of ill-health are common across West African cotton farming communities.

Living With Poison


International support to reduce hazards African governments struggle to find resources to implement measures to protect pesticide users and the local environment. A number of recent international initiatives may support actions to address the problems of hazardous pesticides. The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, first agreed in 1985, was revised in 2002 and, with detailed guidelines, assists governments in meeting best practice in pesticide regulation. However while many governments have adopted legislation, they have limited resources for implementation. Two recent international treaties address hazardous pesticides. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) aims to eliminate the production and use of these chemicals, eight of which are pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene, and pesticides contaminated with dioxins such as 2,4,5-T). In the past DDT and toxaphene were widely used in cotton production. NGOs have called for endosulfan to be considered a POP chemical. The Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC), identifies pesticides that have been banned or severely restricted by governments carrying out a risk evaluation, and asks other governments whether they prohibit or consent to their import. It also increases the level of information exchange on banned pesticides. With one exception, the countries in this study have ratified both Conventions (as at August 2006 Cameroon ratified PIC but not POPs). The PIC Convention asks governments in developing countries and countries with economies in transition to gather evidence of severely hazardous pesticide formulations that cause problems to health or the environment under conditions of use in those countries. This research provides significant evidence for the addition of endosulfan to the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention. Many African countries have accumulated large stockpiles of obsolete pesticide stockpiles as a result of inappropriate purchases or donations, or poor storage practices. The stocks are held in appalling conditions. Packaging and labels have disintegrated. Surrounding communities and their environment are threatened by leakages and dust. Cotton pesticides have contributed to this problem. The African Stockpiles Programme has been launched to clean Africa of this hazard, and it is essential that cotton production does not accumulate fresh waste. This investigation of cotton pesticide use, and particularly the impacts of endosulfan, in five West African cotton-growing countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal - shows


Living With Poison

persistent poisonings, often fatalities, and explains why documentation is often lacking. It underlines the urgency of introducing systematic pesticide incident investigation and reporting, safer and more sustainable pest management strategies in African cotton systems, a more open process of decisionmaking for pest control in the conventional cotton sector, and the importance of more in-depth work on pesticide residues. It suggests that international codes treaties could be useful in raising regulatory standards, providing better information, and ensuring that particularly harmful chemicals are added to the lists of those covered. It asks whether the international hazard classifications accurately reflect the level of precaution required. The report urges that lessons from Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training in West African cotton and the organic cotton projects now expanding in at least four countries in the region should be widely implemented. Organic cotton projects have demonstrated that market-based alternatives to dependence on toxic chemicals are available and viable. Expanding and scaling up these options requires, and deserves, attention and action. Development agencies, research bodies and governments need to prioritise the resources to scale up these safer strategies for pest management.

Methodology The five countries in this study were chosen for the relative importance of cotton and the presence of PAN NGO partners. Studies took place between April 2001 and April 2004. The NGOs had a limited budget, and while all carried out interviews with cotton pesticide users, more time was allocated to research in Benin and Senegal, and greater detail is presented from these countries. The similar conditions of use, and the common cotton filière system in francophone West Africa, suggests that studies in all these countries would find similar results. All NGOs carried out desk research on pesticide usage, backed up by interviews with the cotton companies. Investigations and data collection were made through research of government and other documentation (including extension services, research centres, and newspaper reports), field investigations and laboratory sample analysis. Field research included interviews with farming communities and where possible the documentation of accidents linked to pesticides, and was guided by the information requested on forms developed under the Rotterdam Convention for human health poisonings11.

In Benin, OBEPAB documented poisonings reported in extension centres, health posts, rural radio and police stations, and interviewed well-informed sources such as agricultural extensionists, companies distributing agrochemical inputs, and hospitals or health centres. By consulting medical practitioners OBEPAB was able to identify the villages and families of victims. Interviews were then conducted with those affected, their relatives, or witnesses, by trained students who spoke local languages and were familiar with local customs. In villages, meetings were facilitated by the chiefs or leaders of the 'Groupement Villageois' (village associations). The investigators used three forms for recording incidents: one documenting information on the accidents and the products responsible; one recording poor practices; and one recording the use of pesticides for fishing. From the second year the form for recording severely hazardous pesticide formulations developed for the Rotterdam Convention was used for recording incidents. From 2000 to 2004, 577 cases of pesticide poisoning (of which 97 were fatal) were investigated in 77 villages in 12 districts of Borgou and Alibori departments. Together these departments cover 45% of the national acreage and produce more than 50% of total cotton production in Benin. Information is included from research which began in 200312 on the ecological and health impacts of chemical pesticide use in the cotton growing areas. The study has

investigated the signs and symptoms of poisoning with 197 farmers in nine villages. In Senegal PAN Africa carried out semi-structured interviews with: SODEFITEX senior staff in Dakar, Tambacounda and Velingara; field agents and senior staff involved in the organic cotton projects in Koussanar and Velingara, as well as conventional and organic farmers, livestock producers and artisans in these regions; senior nursing staff from health centres at Kolda and Velingara; chemical suppliers Société des Produits Industriels et Agricoles (SPIA) and Sénégalaise de Chimie (SENCHIM). The primary field research took place between May 2001 and February 2004 in the Tambacounda and Kolda regions (at Vélingara, Kolda and Sédhiou), which are two of the three principal cotton producing regions supported by SODEFITEX. PAN Africa interviewed 157 farmers in 27 villages in the district of Vélingara, which is the largest of the six cotton-growing regions (40% of the total) and the main consumer of pesticides. Villages were chosen either because of their accessibility, or because resource persons had identified severe cases of incidents due to pesticides. Those interviewed were chosen randomly from cotton farming households, although the choice was sometimes guided by the village chief and knowledge of incidents. The rural population of Velingara is 168,936, and the population in the 27 villages is 11,571: those interviewed represent 1.35 % of the population. PAN Africa carried out additional research on environmental impacts of pesticides through field work from September-December 2001 in Velingara department. It aimed to capture pests and beneficial predators from cotton fields, and installed a micro laboratory to raise Paederus riftensis coleopters (a cotton pest predator). Acute toxicity tests for endosulfan on this beetle were done. The method used was the 'adult vial test' originally developed by Plapp and Vinson (1977) in the testing of resistance to chemical pesticides. In Burkina Faso a survey of 10 farmers in each of 10 villages (total 100) was conducted in the cotton growing villages in Gourma province, prioritising the eastern zone where the NGO Association pour la Recherche et la Formation en Agro-ecologie (ARFA) has been active. This is the second largest cotton area. Farmers to interview were selected on the basis of their capacity to observe, their knowledge of the village, and their experience with cotton production. Two interviewers carried out the study, using forms to record use of endosulfan in cotton and cases of poisoning.

Living With Poison


Structure of this report In Cameroon Pesticide Action Network Cameroon (CAPANET) field visits took place in cotton in the production areas, the Extreme North and North provinces. Interviews were organised with the main actors, SODECOTON technical staff, extension agents, producers in their farms, and collection and marketing centres. The research encountered a number of difficulties: mainly a reluctance by SODECOTON staff to give information they considered strategic, and the difficulty of conducting residue tests in Cameroon.

In Mali a field team from Fondation pour le DĂŠveloppement du Sahel and AMPMIVI visited three villages in cotton growing areas (Talla, Ouassasso and Gla), and talked to 31 people who had been poisoned while using cotton pesticides.


Living With Poison

The tightly controlled context of cotton production in francophone West Africa is an important factor in the supply and use of pesticides, and limits the ability of farmers to opt for alternative strategies of production, such as organic. Chapter 2 addresses the importance of cotton to West African economies and farming households, and the structure of production and distribution, and the differing situation in each country. Chapter 3 covers the pesticides that are recommended, supplied and used on cotton in the region. Chapter 4 sets out the results of the surveys in the five countries studied, the evidence of poisoning and ill health, and identifies the pesticide endosulfan in particular as a major contributor to the current situation. Chapter 5 shows the typical conditions of use in the region. The endemic poverty of cotton farmers, exacerbated by the current low price for cotton on the world market, illustrates the inevitability of these cases of poisoning and ill-health. No industrialised country would allow pesticides to be used in these circumstances. Unfortunately it has not galvanised policy changes and international investment to promote a higher level of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), or support for the incipient but expanding organic cotton projects in the region. The final chapter makes recommendations for urgent controls on pesticides in the region, including a ban on endosulfan, while providing farmers with productive and safer alternatives.

2 The cotton context in West Africa Cotton has long been seen as an engine of development in West Africa. Some 10 million people, two million farming households, in Central and West Africa depend on cotton for their livelihoods13 (figure 2.1, table 2.1). Most farming families cultivate cotton on just 0.5-2 ha land. They rely on rain rather than irrigation for water. Limited income-generating alternatives are available in the Sahel region. The first part of this chapter sets out details of the importance of cotton in the region, how it is organised, the costs and problems such as obsolete stockpiles. The second part provides details of organisation of the cotton sector in the five countries in this report. Figure 2.1 Country population and extent of cotton dependency (millions) 15.00 10.00 5.00 0.00


Burkina Faso (17%)

Total population

Cameroon (14%)

Rural population

Mali (20%)

Senegal (6%)

Number dependent on cotton

2.1 Cotton — populations, profits and pesticides Cotton — economic importance Cotton is enormously important to both household and national economies. Over 90% of the crop is exported from West Africa, making up approximately 15% of world cotton exports14. Of the countries in this report, Benin earned 75% of its export revenue from cotton in 2002 and Burkina Faso earned 57%15. It is the most important source of export revenue in Mali and important for the economies of Cameroon and Senegal16. The development of the West African cotton sector has resulted in consistently good-quality cotton, and - for rainfed systems - high average yields by international standards. According to a World Bank report, "Several factors have contributed to successful cotton production in the region: application of appropriate soil nutrient replenishment, pest management, and seed varieties well suited to local conditions; the provision, by the government

and/or the cotton companies, of support services and infrastructure; guaranteed producer prices and output markets; high input-credit recovery rates; and well organized village-level associations."17 But conventional cotton production has drawbacks, particularly price volatility and pest management. Subsidies paid in industrialised countries have resulted in low cotton prices. The subsidies in the United States, European Union and China mean that West African farmers are competing in an unfair market18 and, despite recent discussions in the World Trade Organisation aimed at limiting price supports, the cotton price remains low. Most of the State cotton companies have now been partly privatised. These companies set prices in much of West Africa, and they are usually set below world prices to subsidise the state sector, and allow it to compete against artificially low international market prices.

Table 2.1 Cotton-farming communities in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal Country


Rural (%) Number of cotton farms/ farmers

5 603 088 85 Benin (2005) Burkino Faso (2001) 12 000 000 84 Cameroon Mali (2005) Senegal (1998-99)

14 439 000 52 12 291 529 72 9 000 000 60

325 000 200 000 350 000 (2 500 000 people) 71 000 (16.5%women) (35 299 farms)

Population dependent on cotton

Dependent on cotton (%)

3 000 000 Approximately 2 000 000 2 000 000 2 500 000 Approximately 570 000

54 17 14 20 6

Living With Poison


Fertilisers and pesticides are provided on credit and the cost is deducted from earnings after harvest. Farmers take the risk that yields will be high enough to pay for inputs. Inputs were subsidised in the past, but farmers now pay the market rate. Covering their costs has been a major problem with low cotton prices. In Senegal, for example, the break-even point has been 1000kg of seed cotton per hectare, but average yields are often less than this in the lowrainfall areas of the country19. There is an obvious impact on food security when prices are low. As this report shows, pesticide use in cotton brings other drawbacks: adverse effects on human and animal health, and damage to the ecosystem.

Organisation of the cotton sector in Francophone West Africa The cotton sector in francophone West African countries is based on the 'filière' system, or integrated cotton-based agriculture and rural development. The system, put in place in 1949 under French colonial rule, set up developmental and commercial operations under the French state enterprise, Compagnie Française pour le Développement des Fibres Textiles (CFDT - French textile fibre development company)20. The French agricultural research centre, Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), handled research and extension. The model was largely retained after independence. State-owned national companies were established, and CFDT kept a minority share in these. Under a privatisation move in 2001, CFDT became Développement des Agro Industries du Sud (DAGRIS), in which the French government retains a 40% share. The national cotton companies in Africa have been privatized or partly privatized, and are partly owned by DAGRIS21. The parastatal companies in the five countries in this report are: Benin Société Nationale Pour la Promotion Agricole (SONAPRA) Burkina Faso Société Fibres et Textiles de Burkina (SOFITEX) Cameroon Société de Développement du Coton du Cameroun (SODECOTON) Mali Compagnie maliènne de développement textile (CMDT) Senegal Société de Développement des fibres Textiles (SODEFITEX).


Living With Poison

The filière concept established an integrated supply chain, where national companies have provided seed-to-market services: the finance, pesticide inputs, ginning and marketing and, until recently, rural infrastructure and support programmes. With the introduction of structural adjustment programmes through the 1990s, the organisation of cotton production has seen significant changes, including some privatisation, reduction or dismantling of extension and research services22. DAGRIS is seen by some as having contributed to increases in production and productivity in the region. However others criticise it for establishing a system where a proportion income is retained for social investment (infrastructure, water supply, training), while in practice large sums are retained by the political or social elites. Critics say that DAGRIS supported the government more than the farmers, and is oriented towards French interests. The filière system helps to explain why West Africa exports fibre, and has not developed a significant textile industry. The system has had advantages, but NGOs such as ENDA in Senegal have pointed out that these are outweighed by the high number of poisonings from pesticides and by environmental, social and economic imbalances23. Additionally, profits have largely disappeared as prices stagnate and production costs rise. The provision of inputs to farmers is governed by a system of 'caution solidaire', or shared responsibility, managed by the cotton parastatals, or companies. This approach means that all producers in a conventional cotton growers group are responsible for individual debt, and in the current situation this adversely affects farmers. In Senegal, for example, SODEFITEX supplies the pesticides, fertilisers and seeds to producers through a national producers' organisation, Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Coton, which in turn is represented in each village by producers' organisations, Groupements des Producteurs de Coton (GPC). At the beginning of each cotton season, SODEFITEX makes an inventory of the area to be sown through the GPC, and supplies the appropriate inputs. Each farmer then receives the inputs from the GPC for the area she or he will plant and must repay the value of the inputs to the GPC when it buys the cotton. If any producers cannot meet their full credit, the remaining members cover the balance. The easy access to cotton pesticides, however, leads to their use on non-cotton crops.

Pesticides in West African cotton production — the costs24 Globally, cotton uses 22.5% of all insecticides applied to agricultural crops, and somewhere between 9-10% of all pesticides25. Cotton is vulnerable to insect pest attack, especially when grown in a monoculture. The agrochemicals used to control these insect pests are often acutely toxic, with potential to cause serious adverse health and environmental impacts. Regular use of a specific pesticide brings dangers of resistance, which in turn impacts on income as producers tend to apply the chemical more often, but to little effect.

slow to develop, although some are emerging in Benin31,32. In some cases pesticides firms have recruited field agents to collaborate with national extension services and promote products directly to farmers. Researchers, NGOs and some government observers have criticised the training and advice given on pesticides and pest management by cotton companies since liberalisation, particularly the lack of attention to pesticide hazards. In Benin, there are now 42 pesticide distribution companies, eight of which supply cotton farmers33.

During the 1990s, West African farmers faced major problems when insect pests developed resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. In 1998, national cotton research institutes, along with the French cotton company CFDT (now DAGRIS), the French agricultural research institute CIRAD, and the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee of CropLife International (then Global Crop Protection Federation) produced a report calling for countries in the region to use endosulfan. The advice called for endosulfan use in the first two sprayings over a period of 40 days. The advice was accepted, and endosulfan was supplied to farmers through the national distribution strategies. Farmers are advised to spray fortnightly at the height of the cotton season, an approach acknowledged by researchers to supply far larger volumes of pesticides to individual farmers than are needed for effective or economical pest control26.

In the field, farmers cannot follow recommended precautions. Protective clothing is not available or practical (see chapter 5). Even if farmers could afford personal protective equipment, the high heat and humidity would make these almost impossible to wear. Pesticide application is hard work, and users breathe in strongly while spraying. As a valuable commodity pesticides are stored in the house, which leads to accidental exposure or consumption. Farming communities live in basic housing, and few have lockable or isolated storage facilities. After use, the empty containers are generally reused. Spray equipment is rarely serviced. Spray drift frequently contaminates farmers and those living and working nearby. The structural aspects of supply, credit, advice and training delivery ignore the reality that pesticides can be used under these conditions without risk.

Case studies have shown rising pesticide costs. In Benin, insecticide costs rose 86% between 1999 and 2000, and reached an average of US$97 per hectare for insecticides in 200127. In Senegal, insecticide costs were over US$50 per ha for cotton compared to US$25 for maize and US$2 for groundnut28. SODEFITEX has acknowledged that Senegalese farmers producing less than one tonne per hectare will not be able to pay off debts. In a cotton area studied by PAN Africa, data showed that average yields only once exceeded this figure in six years. In Benin reliance on cotton has failed to improve food security. Where 90% of households indicated that they were food secure in 1990 only 3% felt they were by 2001, with 11% in serious difficulties29. A cotton farmer from Linguewal village in Senegal explained: "Pesticides threaten the development of our community. We've found that they only bring us problems - poisonings, suicides, increased production costs and debts - without increasing yields." 30

Cotton pesticides end up in the wrong places — obsolete stockpiles

The problems for farmers are compounded by the macro-economic policies of the 1980s and 1990s which cut back the agricultural extension agencies, drastically limiting their service delivery to farmers. To date, alternative extension systems have been

All African countries are facing major problems of hazardous obsolete pesticides, and the recent African Stockpiles Programme (ASP)34 has been established to clear these stockpiles. Cotton pesticides have contributed to this problem. Among these five countries, the following have been identified: Benin The stockpiles comprise: 19,381 kg powder formulations; 14,528 litres liquid formulations; 22,000 kg of contaminated soil; and 20,204 empty containers. The main products are Callisulfan (endosulfan 350 g/l), dieldrin, heptachlor, DDT and endrin. Unlike many other African countries, most of the stockpiles are made up of pesticides imported for use in agriculture rather than locust control, and the majority were for use on cotton35. Cameroon 10,000 litres of Thiodan 25 UL (endosulfan) of obsolete stockpiles in Adamaoua36. The general reasons for accumulation of pesticides in Cameroon could apply widely in West Africa:

Living With Poison


2.2 Countries and cotton unplanned purchasing policies which do not assess remaining stocks from the previous season; products which must be mixed with oilbased products (paraffin) for application and shortage of these products; inadequate transport37. Mali CMDT is a major generator of obsolete pesticides in Mali, second only to the locust control programme. Mali is one of the first countries scheduled to be cleared of its obsolete stockpiles through the ASP, and therefore has up-to-date details of obsolete pesticides of the old stocks and their origins. Inventories have identified stockpiles totalling 327,562 litres and 302 kg at two sites in the Sikasso region, which arise exclusively from cotton production. Over 25 different active ingredients are held at the two sites (acetamiprid, alachlor, atrazine, carbosulfan, chlorpyriphos, clethodim, cyanophos, dimethoate, endosulfan, fluometuron, glyphosate, indoxacarb, isoprothiolane, metalochlor, methamidophos, monocrotophos, pendimethalin, profenofos, prometryn, propanil, spinosad, terbutryn, triazophos, trifluralin, and others which cannot be identified). In the smaller of the two sites, holding 6,579 litres, endosulfan comprised 22% of the active ingredients held, and in total it accounted for nearly 4,000 litres38. In addition to these old stockpiles, approximately 90 tonnes of obsoletes were generated several years ago when the cotton farmers refused to plant because of low prices39. Senegal 49.8 litres of triazophos (UL formulation) in containers of 50 -200 litres with packaging in poor condition40. The tonnages indicate a level of waste and poor planning practices that occur despite the filière system. Even with poor delivery, these supply systems are the main source of pesticides in rural areas, and specific pesticides for other crops are not readily available. Cotton farmers are unlikely to build up quantities of cotton pesticides on the farm as pesticides are valuable, and farmers will either use them or - in some cases - sell on the unused amounts. Unused quantities of cotton pesticides are frequently applied to non-target crops (particularly cowpea) by the farmer, or are sold to other farmers who then spray non-target crops.

Benin Benin has a population of 5,603,088 on an area of 112,622 km². Agriculture is the most important sector in the economy. It employs 85% of the active population and contributes to 40% of the GDP. Cotton exports account for up to 80% of official export revenues, 45% of state revenue, and 13% of GDP. It is the main driver of economic growth. The average annual seed-cotton harvest of 350,000 tonnes is worth CFA 70 billion francs for its 325,000 farmers, an average of just over 217,000 CFA per farm (approximately US$430) per year. Throughout the 1990s the export price fluctuated, and provided an inconsistent return for farmers (see table 2.1); prices have dropped further since then. In rural areas cotton generates employment and has provided investment for the development of schools, health centres, wells and roads. Nevertheless, according to the national strategy for cotton (stratégie nationale de developpement de la filière coton) the crop has made little difference to poverty in rural areas, which increased from 30.42% of the population to 31.2% between 1995 and 2000, even though poverty in the country overall remained stable. Cotton production began during the colonial era, and was intensified by the Beninese state in order to increase currency earnings. A reasonably well performing filière system was developed and introduced high yielding varieties which increased production, but these were more vulnerable to pest attacks and pesticide use expanded. With liberalisation of the economy at the beginning of the 1990s, the state withdrew progressively from the sector and transferred responsibility to new private organisations. The government rural extension agencies, Centres Régionaux de Promotion Agricole (CeRPA, formerly CARDER), play an important role in agricultural training and distribution of inputs, and have developed local farmer organisations at different levels: hamlets, villages, districts, departments and national41,42. The cotton activities have now been transferred to SONAPRA, which is currently state-owned, although preparations for privatization are in hand. SONAPRA no longer has a monopoly on the purchase of seed cotton, and many actors are now involved in the sector, in research, extension, input distribution, ginning, and marketing. The exports of cottonseed and cotton lint bring fluctuating fortunes. Prices for cotton rose between 1995 and 1997, but have shown a consistently downward trend since then. Farmers must grow far more cotton in 2002 to earn the same income as they did in 1992. In Benin, for example, while the area devoted to cotton increased from 127,262 hectares to 413,417 hectares between 1992 and 2002, the price over the same period fell from US$1403.5/tonne to US$869.5/tonne.


Living With Poison

In a small number of good years (1995-1997) the export price rose and peaked in 1996 at US$1764/tonne, but the trend was then consistently downwards (see Table 2.2). Cottonseed is exported for oil and animal feed, and the price per tonne similarly dropped, except for a peak of US$121.5/tonne in 1998. Overall contribution to the economy of cottonseed exports is significantly less than for cotton lint, for example in 2002 its export value was US$3.1 million, compared with US$127.3 million for cotton lint. The peak export income from cotton lint for Benin during the 10 year period was US$183 million in 1997, with exports of 112,000 tonnes. To earn the same income in 2002, the country would have had to almost double its exports (see Figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2 Comparison of prododuction (100 tonnes) and export value per tonne (US$) of cotton lint Benin 1992-2002

Table 2.2 Benin 1992-2002 - downward trend in cotton prices against increased production Cotton seed harvested area (Ha) 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

127 152 186 246 358 375 377 370 319 356 413

262 191 840 839 860 217 316 445 318 786 417

Total production (Mt) 152 272 260 328 430 377 364 375 339 393 485

849 182 436 227 398 370 127 586 909 060 522

Yield / ha (tonnes)

1.20 1.79 1.39 1.32 1.20 1.00 0.96 1.01 1.06 1.10 1.17

Burkina Faso Burkina Faso lies in the heart of West Africa, with a population of 12 million and an area of 274,000 km2. It is one of the poorest countries of the world. Agriculture occupies 86% of the economically active population and there is a rural poverty rate of 51%. Around two million people are dependent on cotton for their livelihoods, and the 200,000 cotton farms occupy one-third of the agricultural land. Cotton is mainly grown in the west, but it is the main cash crop and accounted for 40% of exports over the period 1995-200043. Cotton production was 375,000 tonnes in 2001 on 356,000 ha, with yields averaging around 1050 kg/ha in recent years.

Cotton lint exports (tonnes) 58 60 74 98 89 112 128 162 134 107 146

425 000 000 804 000 000 259 694 335 503 400

Cotton lint export value ($1000) 82 73 93 173 157 183 177 168 128 118 127

000 000 000 000 000 000 898 872 178 754 302

Cotton lint price tonne (US$)

Cotton seed price per tonne (US$)

1403.5 1216.7 1256.8 1750.9 1764.0 1633.9 1387.0 1038.0 954.2 1104.7 869.5

64.4 82.4 105.8 75.5 69.6 73.1 121.5 104.5 93.7 111.1 85.5

The Société Burkinabé des Fibres Textiles (SOFITEX) is the main actor in cotton production, controlling the supply chain from production to marketing, as well as being involved in research. Previously a state-owned company, DAGRIS now holds 34%, the national cotton producers' association (Union nationale des producteurs de coton du Burkina Faso - UNPCB) owns 30%, and the government retains 35%. Private sector banks hold the remaining 1%. As in Benin, payments to producer associations are paid net of inputs purchased from SOFITEX and proceeds are then distributed among the members of the association. Although prices paid are as set at the beginning of the season, additional profits are distributed as a bonus payment the following year.

Living With Poison


Cameroon Cameroon is located in Central Africa, and has a diverse agroecology, from the arid Sahelian north to equatorial forest in the south. It covers 469,440 km2 and has a population of 14,439,000. Nearly 52% of the population live in rural areas, and two million of these rely on cotton in some way for their livelihoods. Agriculture contributes some 25% of GDP and 55% of exports, and is the largest employer and income generator in rural areas. Women are central to agricultural production and active in both agricultural processing and marketing. The cotton production zone goes from the extreme north (Waza) to the central area (edges of Adamaoua province). Cotton is one of the six main exports, and 19% of agricultural exports. Cotton is managed by the SODECOTON, and the other principal actors are producers, producer organizations, DAGRIS and the banks. Cotton production increased from 114,362 tonnes in 1991/92 to 230,932 tonnes in 2000/2001. SODECOTON is owned jointly by the state (70%) and DAGRIS (30%) and it supports the 350,000 cotton producers through extension, training, input supply, purchase, transport, sales ands processing and marketing of fibre and byproducts domestically and abroad.

Mali Mali is geographically the largest country studied with a total area of 1,241,231 km2, but only one-third of the land is suitable for agriculture. Of the population of around 12.3 million, 72% live in rural areas, and 40% of these households, 2.5 million people, rely on cotton for cash. Agriculture contributes over 42% of GDP on average, although its share is declining. Cotton accounts for 14% of the total GDP and 50% of the export earnings, despite the recent drop in the world price. Mali is one of the largest producers and exporters of cotton in Africa (after only Egypt) and the eighth largest exporter in the world, giving cotton a highly strategic position in the economy. Production dropped from 493,074 tonnes in 1997-98 to 218,000 tonnes in 2000-01. Virtually all seed cotton is handled by the CMDT, which provides training and services to farmers. It charges producers' organizations with distribution of inputs. CMDT is jointly owned by the Malian government (60%) and DAGRIS (40%), though further privatization is likely. The farmers' union, the Syndicat des Producteurs Cotoniers et Vivriers du Mali (SYCOV) has become a full partner with the CMDT and the government in negotiations over fixing input and cotton prices. The other main actors are village associations (AVs), the Office de la Haute Vallée du Niger (OHVN), input suppliers, banks, and savings and credit institutions.


Living With Poison

Senegal Senegal is a coastal Sahelian country with a population in 1998 of approximately nine million and an area of 200,000 km2. It has two seasons, with the hot wet period from June to October. Rainfall ranges between 1000 mm per year in the South to less than 300 mm in the north. The population is mainly agricultural, and 60% live in rural areas. The main cash crop is groundnuts. Agriculture represents 11% of GDP, and 60% of employment. In 1998 agricultural products accounted for over 14% of exports, but agricultural exports are falling as a share of total exports. Cotton is grown in three administrative regions: Kaolack, Tambacounda and Kolda. It contributes some 3% of GDP and 5% of exports. In the exceptional season of 1991/92, production was 50,576 tonnes, but has since decreased. Both women and men are involved in cotton production, with women most involved in weeding and harvesting. In 1998/1999, there were 2474 villages with 35,299 farms and 71,000 growers, of whom 16.5% were women. The former parastatal company SODEFITEX (DAGRIS has owned 51% since November 2004) remains the dominant actor in conventional cotton; it is the only company licensed to export cotton. Other major players include the producer groups (GPC), the Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Coton (FNPC), the state, and banks (especially Caisse Nationale de Crédit Agricole du Sénégal and Compagnie bancaire de l'Afrique de l'Ouest). Secondary actors are input suppliers, and the research institute Institut Sénégalais de Recherche Agricole (ISRA).

3 Pesticide use in West African cotton The cotton sector in West Africa uses significant inputs of pesticides. While some of the uncontrolled escalations of pesticide use on cotton elsewhere in the world have been avoided, the use of hazardous pesticides is widespread, and controls are poor. Centralised advice and the filière system have led to similar patterns of use, and the application of similar pesticides, across Francophone West and Central Africa. Three of the countries studied, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, are part of the regional pesticide registration body, the Comité Permanent Inter Etats de Lutte Contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS)44 .

Bringing back endosulfan — creating problems In 1998 a project was initiated to address problems of resistance in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa spp., to the pyrethroid insecticides that had been used for many years. The Projet Régional de Prévention et de Gestion des Résistances de Helicoverpa armigera aux pyréthrinoïdes en Afrique de l'Ouest (PR-PRAO)45 was started by the national cotton research institutes in West Africa, the French cotton company CFDT (now DAGRIS), CIRAD and the agrochemical industry's Insect Resistance Action Committee (IRAC)46. Participating countries were Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Togo. The 1998/99 PR-PRAO experiments concluded that: 'Infestations by Helicoverpa armigera arrive earlier in the season and … do not spare early sowings as they did in the past.' The report noted that satisfying results had been obtained by using endosulfan, and concluded that: "For the 1999/2000 season, the countries in the region engage in the development of a so-called 'window' programme at the start of the season with endosulfan. This product will generally be used for the first two sprayings during a period of 40 days, which corresponds with one generation of Helicoverpa armigera."47 Following this advice, endosulfan was reintroduced into cotton in 1998-1999 in Mali and Benin, and in 1999-2000 in Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. This system is still in use. In the past, because of its high toxicity, endosulfan had been removed from West African cotton systems. Endosulfan is an organochlorine pesticide and, although less persistent, is of the same chemical family as DDT and dieldrin. It is classed by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a class I pesticide with extremely high acute toxicity. The WHO classifies endosulfan as moderately hazardous (Class II). Endosulfan has been banned in accordance with the Rotterdam Convention in the Netherlands, Thailand and Cote d'Ivoire. In 2006, the European Commission agreed not to authorise the use of endosulfan (i.e. did not add it to Annex 1 of the Registration directive, 91/414). Earlier bans have been imposed in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Belize, Singapore, Colombia and Indonesia (see box 1 for examples of concerns). There are severe restrictions in many other countries. In spite of the regulatory disagreement over the extent of its hazard, experience

in developing countries in particular has found endosulfan to cause many health and environmental problems. As this study shows in Chapter 4, endosulfan is often named by producers in West African cotton systems as the principal cause of poisonings. A number of studies in Benin indicated specific problems with endosulfan in the environment. Biosphere Reserves are areas of land and water ecosystems recognised for their biological diversity and contribution to international biodiversity. One significant study48 on the impact of pesticides use on Pendjari reserve in Benin and the 'W' region transboundary biosphere reserve (which covers over one million hectares in Benin and Burkina Faso and takes its name from the double bend of the Niger River) revealed that endosulfan is present in almost all water samples (23-460 ng/litre in the W reserve and 46-430 ng/litre in Pendjari reserve). Endosulfan was the pesticide most commonly found, with DDT breakdown products, heptachlor and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The residues of pesticides in natural systems, in particular in sediments, continually increased between 1996 and 2002. Endosulfan is officially imported to Benin, whereas the other POPs were illegally introduced by growers themselves, or carried across borders from neighbouring countries. However illegal use in fishing (notably of heptachlor) also accounts for its occurrence in rivers. A study carried out by OBEPAB in the cotton production zones in central Benin revealed the presence of residues of pesticides in aquatic species in rivers of Dridji. In fact, pp'-DDE and alphaendosulfan with concentrations of 403 and 75 ng/ gram were found in several species, including Clarias gariepinus and other aquatic species such as Cardiosoma armatum (crab), Bufo regularis (toad) and Xenopus muelleri (frog)49. Few studies exist on the environmental impacts and presence of endosulfan in tropical areas, and these two indicate the need for further studies, and for precautionary measures to prevent adverse effects on tropical species.

Living With Poison


Box 1. Endosulfan's chequered career At the time of recommending endosulfan for use on cotton in West Africa, sufficient experience with poisonings under poor conditions of use was available to provide a warning that endosulfan-based products could not be used without harming farming families. India, Kerala Over an extended period of time, endosulfan had been aerially sprayed on cashew nut plantations, and the villages in the surrounding area suffered from serious health effects, including a high level of children born with severe deformities50. The state courts have instituted a temporary ban on spraying endosulfan, and in June 2006 the State government agreed to pay compensation. South Africa Two children aged 7 and 10 died after coming into contact with a goat treated with endosulfan in February 2003. Endosulfan is sold in South Africa as a vaccination in veterinary medicine51. Sudan In 1988, barrels (previously containing endosulfan) were washed in an irrigation canal and caused massive death of fish; three people died after drinking water from the canal52. In 1991, 31 people died after eating seeds treated with endosulfan53. Senegal In 1995, after poor spraying of endosulfan by a plane belonging to the SociĂŠtĂŠ Nationale des Tomates Industrielles (SNTI) on tomato fields at Dagan in the Senegal river valley, fish died along several kilometres of the river's length. Senegal During the 1998-1999 season, farmers washed barrels previously containing endosulfan in an irrigation canal in Podor department, which caused many fish deaths. Endosulfan was being used by SODEFITEX in its irrigated cotton experiments in the Senegal river valley. Zimbabwe In 1976, the contamination of non target species such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and some mammals was noticed in the Zambezi River valley, following aerial spraying of endosulfan in the campaign against tsetse flies54.


Living With Poison

Pesticides used in West African cotton Quantities of pesticides used will fluctuate with pest variability and rainfall. Nevertheless trends are discernable and in spite of common use patterns, there are variations between countries in usage trends in cotton, as well as variations in products available. Pesticides usage in Benin has declined slightly in recent years. This is almost certainly due to increases in the costs to producers as subsidies have been removed with liberalisation. However, the reduction may not mean that overall pesticides application has declined, as illegal trade - often across the border with Nigeria - is likely to have replaced some of the official imports. As seen in chapter 4, endosulfan is widely used in Benin, and the formulation of 67.92% was responsible for many poisonings. In Cameroon and Mali pesticide use in cotton is increasing. In Mali, cotton insecticides imports went up from 1,310,000 litres in 1996-1997 to 2,391,600 litres in 1999-2000. The volume of herbicides grew from 95 000 litres in 1995-1996, 100,000 litres in 1996-1997 to 420,000 litres in 1999-2000. Around 80% of pesticides used in Mali are used on cotton. CMDT imports over 500,000 litres of endosulfan. In Senegal insecticide use in cotton had risen through the 1990s, partly as a result of resistance. In the 1993-94 season farmers sprayed 509,871 litres. Endosulfan was reintroduced in the 1999-2000 season at a recommended rate of 0.75 litres a hectare. The main product used was Callisulfan (endosulfan plus cypermethrin), which accounted for 61% of insecticide usage in the 2000-2001 season. In the 2001-02 cotton overall insecticide use was reduced to 168,337, and from 11 sprays to six55. This included use of 29,331 litres of the active ingredient endosulfan. Over a similar period, the use of herbicides increased significantly, from 34,645 litres in 1994/95 to 71,325 litres in 1997/98. The areas sown with cotton are relatively stable. Overall, Senegalese agriculture in 2000 used on average 1,298 tonnes of solid pesticides and 1,336,560 litres at a value of approximately CFA 10.5 billion.


1993/1994 1994/1995 1995/1996 1996/1997 1997/1998 1998/1999 -endosulfan 1999/2000 -endosulfan 2000/2001 endosulfan 2001/2002 -endosulfan 2002/2003 -endosulfan 2003/2004 -endosulfan 2004/2005 -endosulfan


1 2 2 2 1 2

972 080 033 316 991 054

764 239 386 603 529 090

2 314 127

Cameroon (insecticides only)



nk nk 000 000 460 600

550 355 227 418 430 470


nk nk nk nk nk 301 052 39 483 nk

1 1 2 2

175 410 364 761

3 045 000 20 000 nk

2 097 063 29 331 1 880 000

nk nk


1 794 000 1 010 000







Table 3.1 Insecticides and herbicides used in cotton 19932004 (litres)(a) Shaded row indicates endosulfan use in that year

448 368 913 864 413 840

329 506 145 62 235 150 265 130 200 130 372 185

887 000 000 000 000 000 500 000 750 000

(a) Figures for Burkina Faso were not identified. (b) nk = not known Sources: Senegal SODEFITEX; Mali CMDT, Atelier sur la problĂŠmatique de la gestion des pesticides au Mali.













Table 3.1 shows the official imports of insecticides and herbicides used in cotton in the years available between 1993 and 2004 for Benin, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal. The shaded row indicates, where known, the imports of endosulfan in the same year. In Benin in 2002-2003, 56% of Benin's pesticide use in cotton comprised of endosulfan. In Senegal the amount fluctuated from 42% in 2000-2001 to 65% in 2003-2004. Increased use of pesticides does not necessarily lead to increases in yield. For example, in Benin over this period average seed cotton yields declined even though over the same period fertilizer imports Figure 3.1 Insecticides and herbicides used in cotton 1993-2005 (litres) increased markedly. Figure 3.1 shows trends in volumes of pesticides used on cotton in Benin, 3500000 Mali and Senegal. However even where volumes 3000000 appear to be stable or falling, this does not always signify a reduction in pesticide application as 2500000 different pesticides are more active at lower 2000000 application rates. For example the trend away 1500000 from organophosphates to pyrethroids through the 1990s would have this effect. If there is no 1000000 reduction in applications, there is rarely a 500000 reduction in the cost to the farmer; in fact the 0 reverse can be the case as newer pesticides may be more expensive. This was illustrated in the case of Benin on figure 2.2 above. Table 3.2 sets out, as far as possible, pesticides being used in cotton production in the five study countries. It shows that some of the older organophosphate insecticides, which are very hazardous for human health, have been withdrawn from use on cotton in a number of West African countries. For example after the 1999 cotton season, Senegal stopped using methamidophos, dimethoate, chlorpyrifos and benfuracarb. Monocrotophos seems to have been removed from most countries in the region. However the conditions of pesticide use mean that pesticide-related health hazards remain a daily occurrence. The WHO classification indicates the expected acute hazard of a pesticide active ingredient. Generally insecticides are the most acutely toxic classes, and the Code of Conduct recommends to governments that "Prohibition of the importation, sale and purchase of highly toxic and hazardous products, such as those included in WHO classes Ia and Ib, may be desirable if other control measures or good marketing practices are insufficient to ensure that the product can be handled with acceptable risk to the user." 56 It is important that the Code does not specify only the two 'most hazardous' categories as the only targets, as pesticides classified by the WHO as 'moderately hazardous' are known to cause serious health problems and fatalities: endosulfan, chlorpyrifos and profenofos are regularly cited by those interviewed for this report as causing health problems, and the problematic paraquat is also class II. The WHO classification takes some account of evidence of carcinogenic or other chronic health effects, but this is variable. The known endocrine-disruptor atrazine (recently banned in Europe) has been classified as 'unlikely to present problems under normal use'.

Living With Poison


Table 3.2 Pesticides used in cotton in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal based on information over the period 1993-2005

Active ingredient

WHO Chemical Class(6) type

Product names: where repeated indicates multiple pesticides in formulation; [ ] country identifying product name (5)







Insecticides Acetamiprid Alphacypermethrin Benfuracarb Betacyfluthrin Cypermethrin

** II II * II

Conquest [S,B]



Pyrethroid Carbamate Pyrethroid Pyrethroid

Chlorpyrifos Chlorpyrifos ethyl

II *


Cyfluthrin Deltamethrin Dimethoate


Pyrethroid Pyrethroid OP




Fenpropathrin Indoxacarb Lambdacyhalothrin Malathion Methamidophos


Pyrethroid Carbamate Pyrethroid

Monocrotophos Profenofos Pyriproxyfen Triazophos

Ib II U Ib

Herbicides Atrazine Clomazone Dipropethryne Diuron Ethoxyethyl Fluometuron

U II * U ** U

Glyphosate Haloxyfop methyl Metolachlor Paraquat Pendimethalin Prometryn






Cypercal B possibly not after 1998/99 [S] Possibly not after 1998/99: Bulldock [S] Callisulfan [S], Conquest [S,B], Cypercal [S], Cyperthion [BF], Duel [M], Deltaphos [M], Nurelle [M], Pagapel [M], PolythĂŠine [M], Tersen [M] Deltaphos [M] Dursban [B], Nurelle (M,B) Possibly not after 1998/99: Cyclofos, Decis/Reldan [ S] Dursban (with chlorpyrifos) [B] Decis, with triazophos [S], Decis T [B] Cotalm [B], Decis D [B], Tersen [M] Possibly not after 1998/99: Sherdiphos [S] Bromyx [M], Callisulfan [S,B], CaĂŻman [BF], Cytophos [M], [M,BF], Phaser [S,M,B,BF], Rocky [S,M,BF], Thionex [B], Thiofanex [M,BF] Prempt [S] Avaunt [M] Cotalm [B]






X X ? ? X





X ?










Cypercal [M], Cyperthion [BF] Possibly not after 1998/99 [S] Curacron [B], Cypercal [S], Duel [M]; Pagapel [M] X Prempt [S] Conquest [S,B], Decis triazophos [S], Decis T [B], Tersen [M]







X Galaxy [BF] Cotondon [BF] Action [BF], Calluron [S-last used 98/99]



Fluorone, [BF], Callifor [S,BF], Fluralm [BF], Herbicoton [BF] Callifor G [S], Calluron [S-last used 98/99]


Cotondon [BF] Gramoxone [S-not since 97/98] Galaxy [BF] Fluorone, [BF], Callifor [S,BF], Fluralm [BF], Herbicoton [BF] Cotondon [BF]
















* Not listed, but possible equivalent: betacyfluthrin (cyfluthrin is II); chlorpyrifos ethyl (chlorpyrifos is II); haloxyfop methyl (haloxyfop is II); ** Not included in WHO Classification Notes (1)-(5); This list is not exhaustive: (1) Information from Burkina Faso may indicate pesticides authorized for use in cotton as at 2003 rather than what has actually been used. (2) Information for Cameroon covers the period 1998-99 (3) Information for Mali covers the period 1995-2000. (4) Information for Senegal covers the period 1993-2005. (5) In some cases the pesticide is no longer approved and where known this is indicated. (6) WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard 2004: Ia - extremely hazardous; Ib - highly hazardous; II moderately hazardous; III slightly hazardous; U - Unlikely to present acute hazard in normal use.


Living With Poison

4 Context and evidence of poisonings Growing cotton is almost the only means of earning cash in many rural areas of West Africa, and it is essential to the livelihoods of millions of farming families across the region. At least 10 million people are dependent on cotton for their livelihoods. In Benin this means approximately 54% of the population, in Burkina Faso 17%, Cameroon 14%, Mali 20% and Senegal 6%57,58,59. Many millions more are indirectly dependent on cotton. Farming households, commonly of 8-10 people, grow cotton on around 0.5-2 hectares of land and rely entirely on rainfall for water. Cotton offers one of the few sources of cash income, but communities have been badly affected by the plummeting prices for their crop on the world market. All members of cotton farming households are regularly exposed to cotton pesticides while working in the fields, through spray drift to their houses, storage in the home, or re-use of containers. Products are applied a minimum of six times per season. The normal advice to farmers is to spray twice with endosulfan starting about six weeks after planting, followed by at least four additional sprays with a formulation of a pyrethroid and organophosphate. Farmers regularly apply the same pesticides to cowpeas and vegetables. These studies show the kinds of health problems faced in cotton households under the conditions of use. The size of the studies was limited by funds available, and they cannot be presented as truly random surveys. However the villages are typical of those found in cotton growing areas. The second part of this section describes characteristic conditions of pesticide use in cotton areas, and suggests that similar results would be found in any cotton-growing village across the region.

4.1 Acute poisonings: results of investigations United Nations agencies estimate that 'one to five million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in several thousand fatalities among agricultural workers.'60 The report indicates that most of these cases occur in developing countries where safeguards typically are inadequate or lacking altogether, and points out that while developing countries use 25% of the world's production of pesticides, they experience 99% of the deaths. Acute endosulfan poisoning affects the nervous system, and is noted by the US Department of Health as the primary effect observed in humans following occupation exposure to endosulfan61. Common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and anxiety. More serious cases escalate to loss of coordination, inability to stand, convulsions and loss of consciousness. People with protein-poor diets are more likely to be susceptible to the toxic effects of endosulfan or other acutely toxic pesticides, a situation which may be common in rural households at certain times of the year62. These and other symptoms were recorded in the case studies, as well as a significant number of fatalities, particularly in Benin. Few of these cases

appear in formal medical records. Most cases do not go to a hospital or health centre. Medical staff lack training, information and resources and as a result may be misdiagnosing. Cases are commonly attributed mistakenly to malaria and other diseases63. Research elsewhere has shown that all members of a family suffer health effects from pesticides in areas of high and regular usage64. This seems to occur partly as a result of spray drift, and partly from the different activities carried out by women and men farmers: for example women may be weeding while spraying is taking place, children may be playing near the fields, and women generally wash work clothes (see Chapter 5). These cotton studies demonstrate this impact on all members of farming families: men and women, children and older people, and the ways that exposure occurs in the household as well as in the field. The most detailed surveys were carried out in Benin and Senegal, and the results are presented here, supplemented with information obtained from studies in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Mali.

Living With Poison


4.2 Benin — results of poisoning surveys The high level of pesticide use on cotton in Benin has concerned many farmers. Interviews show a general acceptance pesticide use is associated with such illnesses headaches, eye problems, vertigo, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Many associate pesticide use with miscarriages. In one village farmers stopped growing cotton for three years because of these health problems65. Serious concerns were raised about increased poisonings among farming communities in cotton growing areas in the 1999/2000 season, when the authorities reported that cotton pesticides had claimed at least 37 lives, and a further 36 were identified with serious health problems. OBEPAB carried out its first independent report in 2000 and identified 24 fatalities among families interviewed,

estimating that estimated that 70 deaths occurred in this period in the cotton areas it investigated64. OBEPAB followed this with investigations over the following seasons, in covering the period 2000-2003. During this period they investigated and recorded 577 incidents in the villages studied (table 4.1), which included 97 fatalities (see Table 4.1). The main products responsible for incidents were those containing the active ingredient endosulfan, accounting for 69% of the cases. The second offending product, causing 14% of poisonings, was Cotalm - a mixture of the pyrethroid lambdacyhalothrin and an organophosphate (some formulations contain dimethoate and others contain profenofos) (table 4.2).

Figure 4.1 Table 4.1 Benin - summary of identified incidents of pesticide poisoning investigated by OBEPAB 2000-03 2000 - 01

2001 - 02

2002 - 03














Acute poisoning Fatalities Total

Poisonings and fatalities, Benin 2000-03

Source: OBEPAB reports

Table 4.2 Products and active ingredients responsible for poisoning (2000-2003) Product / active ingredient Cotalm (formulations: lambdacyhalothrin+dimethoate* / lambdacyhalothrin+profenofos*) Endosulfan (various product names) Dursban (chlorpyrifos*) Decis (deltamethrin+triazophos*) Tiktac (active ingredient not known) DN (active ingredient not known) Cystoate (cypermethrin and dimethoate*) Undetermined

% Caused








69 6 1 0 2 2 7 100

347 26 4 1 9 0 20 480

53 8 0 0 0 9 18 97

400 34 4 1 9 9 38 577

* This active ingredient is an organophosphate (OP) Source: OBEPAB investigations


Living With Poison

Figure 4.2 Comparison of poisonings by active ingredients

600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Formulations with endosulfan

Formulations with OPs

The proportion of men and women affected was different in each year of the studies. In the first season 75% of the victims were men, in the second year 61% of men, and in the third year 51% of men (see table 4.3). In the first study season the majority of deaths, 54%, were in the 20-40 age group, the group when men would most likely be spraying. In subsequent years the numbers of men and the proportion affected in this age group was lower (36%

Not known


and 42% of the cases investigated). In some parts of the country rural radio broadcast warnings about the rise in poisonings, and it seems likely that this helped to reduce poisoning cases. In the 2002-2003 season, OBEPAB documented additional details, and found that food contamination was the main cause of poisoning in that year (table 4.5). Box 2 sets out examples of poisonings and fatalities.

Figure 4.3 Table 4.3 Poisonings and fatalities by gender 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03

Poisonings and fatalities by gender

Total Total

Men Women

200 65

125 81

54 52

379 196











Source: OBEPAB reports

200 Men






Figure 4.4 Poisonings and fatalities by age

Table 4.4 Poisonings and fatalities by age 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03


0-20 20-40 >40

95 142 28

115 73 18

49 45 12

259 260 58






Source: OBEPAB reports

2002-03 2001-02 2000-01 0


200 0-20

300 20-40





Living With Poison


In a further study carried out by OBEPAB in 200467 which interviewed 197 villagers, all recorded some impacts from pesticide exposure. A medical study of 14 farmers from nine small villages found similar problems (see table 4.6). The medical investigation recorded pesticide incidents and symptoms, observed those working in the field during spraying, and noted medical treatments administered. The investigations show that some people have been

incapacitated for life: they have lost visual acuity, experience regular pain from conjunctivitis, and suffer from serious metabolic and digestion problems. Records at the hospital in Abomey, covering the area where the village is located, show that in the first half of 2004, 42 people (15 men and 27 women) were admitted due to pesticide poisoning.

Table 4.5 Main causes of poisoning, Benin 2002-03 Age Men Contaminated food Spraying in the field Voluntary ingestion Re-use of containers Total

1 0 3 0 4

Death Women 1 0 1 0 2

Health problems Men Women 47 3 0 0 50

49 0 0 1 50



98 3 4 1 106

92% 3% 4% 1% 100%

Source: OBEPAB research, 2003.

Table 4.6 Signs and symptoms of poisoning collected during the observations in a medical study and OBEPAB study Symptoms

Eye burns Reddening of the eyes Swelling/broken blood vessels in eyes Skin rashes Burns Broken blood vessels in cheeks Reddening of the throat Sneezing Runny nose Low blood pressure Weakness Cough Visual problems Aches Vertigo Depression / anxiety Nausea High blood pressure Headaches Watering of the eyes Rash / other dermatitis Stomach pain Vomiting Fever Difficulty swallowing Diarrhoea

Medical study (n=14)


Village study (n=197)


14 14 14 14 14 14 14 10 12 7 10 3 7 8 8 8 3 9 10 5 4 5

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 71 86 50 71 21 50 57 57 57 21 64 71 36 29 36

197 188 187 188 127 119 94 95 85 75 70 70 42 39 34 33 18 17 16 9 5

100 95 95 95 64 60 48 48 43 38 36 36 21 20 17 17 9 9 8 5 3

Source: OBEPAB, Project EcosantĂŠ, 2004 Note: while some of these symptoms are associated with endosulfan, and were reported shortly after spraying, it cannot be ruled out that other pesticides were involved in these or other incidents


Living With Poison

Box 2. Cases of endosulfan poisoning in Benin On August, 24, 1999, in the village of Maregourou, three boys between the ages of 12 to 14 went to weed the cotton field of their father. The cotton crop was cultivated together with maize. The day before, the father had sprayed the field with endosulfan and the boys did not know. After the work, they were hungry and they took a few maize cobs to eat. Fifteen minutes later they started vomiting. They were taken to the hospital of Bembereke where one boy of 12 died. The two others survived. Pesticides News No.47, March 2000, p1214.

At just eight years old, Modachirou Inoussa already helped his parents in the cotton fields, and 29 July 2000 started as a day like many others. Modachirou had worked hard and ran back to the house feeling thirsty. Finding no drink, he set off to search for his parents. On his way, Modachirou found an empty container, and scooped up some water to drink from a ditch. That evening he did not return home. A village search found his body next to the empty Callisulfan bottle innocently used to quench his thirst. Reports from: Kparatédji in the commune of Guéné, district of Malanville, Benin; El Adji Zibo Yaya, Treasurer of the village association of Kparatédji. Pesticides News 52, June 2001, pages 12-14.

After pesticide application, it is difficult to isolate the equipment, empty or half empty containers and contaminated clothing. Even when precautions are taken, accidental results can be disastrous. Monsieur Issaka and

his family live in the village of Nallou in the district of Nikki. On the evening of 7 August 2000, Issaka, who had treated his cotton field with Callisulfan (endosulfan), returned to the house and left his work clothes on the roof of the house out of reach of his four children, aged six to eight. During the night it rained, and the water passed through his clothes, dripping into some vessels for domestic use. The next morning their parents took water from these vessels for the children to drink and wash. Some minutes later, they began to have headaches, nausea and convulsions. They were taken urgently to the health centre of Nikki, where they were treated with Diazepam, glucose serum and oxygen. But all four children died within about 20 hours. Report from 'Major health officer' of the Commune of Biro, Monsieur Traoré Altik, in Pesticides News 52, June 2001, pages 1214.

The Mathieu family lived in the village of Bangourou in the commune of Ouénou , district of N'Dali. Houkpè Mathieu (35 years) had treated his sorghum seeds with Callisulfan to protect them from rats. He planted some seeds, and carried the remainder to his house. The next day, his wife, Marcelline (25 years), mixed this sorghum with another quantity and took it to the mill to be ground for household consumption. On 27 July 2000, she prepared the family meal using the ground sorghum. Two hours later, Houkpè, Marcelline and their five-year-old son Bruno suffered dreadful stomach pains. The neighbours took them to the health centre in

N'Dali. Marcelline died before reaching the health centre, and Houkpè and Bruno died within five minutes of arrival. One of the family's goats ate the remains of the meal and also died. Reports from: Communal Health Centre of N'Dali, N'Dali police; Mr. Kora Basse Moussa, the secretary of the Tamarou Groupement Villageois, reported in Pesticides News 52, June 2001.

A survey of farmers in the villages concerned found that 88% kept pesticides in their bedroom, 9% under the grain store, 2% in an isolated place and 1% in their kitchen. The practice of storing pesticides in the house is explained by farmers' concern to protect their inputs from thieves. Boubakari Issifou, aged seven, lived in the village of Goroubéri, district of Karimama. In September 2000, his father prepared a solution of Cotalm D to treat his cotton field. After spraying, the unused portion of the solution was poured into a four-litre container and left in a room serving as a storehouse. Six days later, the father opened the storehouse to look for something. Young Issifou was with him. Seeing the container, he confused the contents with a popular drink called 'Hari farou', and returned later to try it. He soon felt ill, and declared to his parents 'the Hari farou in the container in our storehouse does not taste right.' His parents made him vomit part of the solution and gave him fresh milk, oil and salt. Despite their efforts, Issifou died within about 19 hours of drinking the pesticide solution. Reported in Pesticides News 52, June 2001.

Living With Poison


4.3 Senegal — results of poisoning surveys PAN Africa carries out surveys on pesticide poisoning incidents in different regions of Senegal on an on-going basis. The interviews reported were carried out in 2003 and 2004. They took place in cotton growing areas, mainly in the Velingara region, where 157 farmers were interviewed in 27 villages. The farmers identified 162 cases of poisoning, of which 26 were women and 136 were men (table 4.6). Although women accounted for only 16% of overall poisonings, they represented over half of the deaths, largely because more women used pesticides for self-harm when under stress. The survey found that the most significant cause of poisoning was exposure during application, which was identified in 73.2% of cases. This activity is mostly carried out by men in Senegal, and explains the high incidence of poisoning among men. The second major reason (6.4%) was accidental contamination of pesticides with liquid, such as water, milk and oil, often as a result of the use of

empty pesticide containers for collecting water or storing food. This was followed by fatal and nonfatal incidents of self-harm (4.5% and 3.2% respectively) (see table 4.7). Most of the victims treated the poisoning themselves (41%) or did nothing or washed themselves with soap (21%). However 62 of those affected (38%) went to hospital for treatment. The main products prescribed by doctors were: atropine (56%), vitamin B6 (22%), glucose solution (12%), a variety of drugs (6%), tranquiliser (2%) and gastric lavage (2%). The most popular self-medication (80%) was to drink milk, followed by the use of kerosene (5%). The remainder of the remedies noted were shea butter, charcoal, tea and coffee, paracetamol, aspirin, skin cream. Most of the victims are could not read (79%), or had been educated only in the local language, Pulaar (2%) and so labels were meaningless. Only one had been to university.

Table 4.7 Outcome of poisoning incidents by sex in the Velingara region of Senegal, 2003-2004 (n=157) Men

Figure 4.6 Senegal - Pesticide poisonings and fatalities in cotton region 2001-03

Women Total incidents Total

Deaths Ill Health

9 127

11 15

20 142

Total incidents identified






Source: Interviews; PAN Africa data base on poisonings



100 Deaths



Ill Health

Table 4.7 Main causes of incidents in the Velingara region of Senegal from interviews conducted between 2003-2004 (n=157) Causes Pesticide application Confused with harmless product Self-harm (fatal) Self-harm (non fatal) Contaminated food Non-approved use (misuse) General handling Not known Source: Interviews carried out by PAN Africa; PAN Africa database on poisonings


Living With Poison

Numbers affected

% Affected

115 10 7 5 5 5 4 6 157

73.2% 6.4% 4.5% 3.2% 3.2% 3.2% 2.5% 3.8% 100%

In further interviews that were conducted in February 2003, PAN Africa surveyed nine villages in Velingara department. These interviews - with rural extension centres, nurses in health centres, and resource people in villages including both chiefs and farmers - uncovered 43 new cases of poisoning, of which seven required hospitalisation (fortunately no fatalities) and the remaining 36 used self-medication. Callisulfan (a formulation with endosulfan) caused 35% of these cases, which were mainly males between ages 19 and 49. Poisoning occurred by direct contact with the skin during spraying. The other cases were caused by Cypercal (cypermethrin), Conquest plus (cypermethrin, acetamiprid, triazophos), Asthoate (dimethoate), Nurelle D 436 EC (cypermethrin, chlorpyriphos) and a product called Pépréthion.

In interviews carried out in February 2004 in six of the 62 villages in the Communauté Rurale de Sare Coly Salle of the department of Velingara (Téyel, Biarou, Kountanto, Saré Madi et Sinthian Kandiaye). The interviews identified 60 poisoning cases, of which four deaths were noted. The health problems identified were found mainly in men (95%), who are responsible for pesticide application in the household. Endosulfan and the product Pépréthion caused more than 60% of cases: 40% and 16% respectively (table 4.9). While Pépréthion is no longer used, its legacy remains through chronic adverse health effects. .

Table 4.8 Pesticides identified as responsible of poisonings, survey of nine villages, 2003. Active ingredients

Trade name

Percentage (%)

Endosulfan with cypermethrin Endrin and DDT Triazophos, acetamiprid, cypermethrin cypermethrin, profenofos carbofuran, thiram, benomyl deltamethrin, chlorpyrifos ethyl glyphosate, fluometuron, prometryn dimethoate alpha-cypermethrin DDT* cypermethrin and chlorpyriphos cypermethrin and dimethoate methamidophos Not identified

Callisulfan Pépréthion* Conquest Cypercal Granox Décis Callifor G Asthoate Bestox DDT Nurelle Sherpa Tamaron

31.2 16.31 12.76 11.34 3.54 2.83 1.14 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 15.6

* Farmers citing this pesticide are still suffering from significant health problems arising from earlier usage of this product.

Table 4.9 Pesticides or active ingredients responsible for incidents, identified in interviews February 2004.

Type of incident

Number poisoned Number of deaths Total number % poisoned % deaths Total %


Pesticide responsible Décis Endosulfan Conquest plus

15 1 16 25 1.6 26.6

3 0 3 5 0 5

23 1 24 38.3 1.6 39.9

11 1 12 18.3 1.6 19.9

Callifor G

0 1 1 0 1.6 1.6


56 4 60 93 8 100

Source: Interviews carried out by PAN Africa, February 2004.

Living With Poison


4.4 Burkina Faso — results of poisoning surveys In Burkina Faso68 10 farmers were interviewed from each of 10 villages in the cotton growing area of Gourma: Boudangou, Nagré, Onakpaliangou, Taagou, Nakinoghin, Bugi, Kantanbari, ZimbiliJoasin, Natiaboani, Kouaré (the village population ranges from 500-5000). All those interviewed were men; 91 were heads of household (nine were household members); they were aged between 30 and 55 (average 42). In most instances, pesticide application was carried out by a member of their household, and not the person interviewed. The interviewees reported that the person who applied pesticides in their household suffered a significant range of impacts either during, immediately after, or some days after spraying. Severe headaches were the most common symptom, affecting 92%, followed by 83% reporting vertigo, 54% hand tremors, 21% nausea or vomiting, 21% confused vision, 13% profuse sweating, 8% staggering and 8% over-salivation. Most of these symptoms, 46%, manifest themselves within hours or a few days after pesticides use. Some cases however (13%) were documented during pesticide application and these were usually the more serious incidents. Oral (75%) and dermal (62.5%) routes of exposure were most common, followed by chemicals in the eyes (50%) and inhalation (25%). It was not possible to identify the products responsible for each symptom. All farmers use endosulfan (product Rocky 350EC and others) and a formulation of cypermethrin and profenofos (Cyperthion 30/200). Another product (Attakan 344EC) from France is used on cotton, but the active ingredient was not known.

4.5 Cameroon — results of poisoning surveys Farmers interviewed in Cameroon indicated that they suffer from health problems (itching, vertigo, nausea) after treating their fields. Most farmers use home remedies such as water with lemon, tamarind juice, milk, charcoal and other locally available sources. It was difficult to obtain complete information on pesticides poisonings from either health centres or the general population as affected people rarely go to hospital and only consult doctors for serious or acute cases. Most people are illiterate and unable to provide precise information on the dates of accidents or the products involved. Village leaders indicated


Living With Poison

that cotton farmers are supported and trained by SODECOTON to know how to handle and store pesticides chemicals and on toxic product safety awareness. The leaders suggest that pesticides poisoning incidents were not common. The provincial health officer for the cotton growing Northern Region disagreed with this assessment, and indicated that the poor practices common in that region result in many incidents. He indicated that these conditions lead to chronic afflictions.

4.6 Mali — results of poisoning surveys In August 2001, a PAN Africa mission in Mali visited 21 villages in a cotton area, and recorded poisoning incidents as follows (see also table 4.10) 69. Kita: 10 villages visited, and 10 producers interviewed in each village. Farmers identified 26 cases of poisoning and one death. The insecticides used were endosulfan products sold as Cytophos, Thiofanex, Endocoton. Other products named were: Tersen (cypermethrin, dimethoate, triazophos), Duel 171 (cypermethrin and profenofos) and Avaunt (indoxacarb). Fana: 6 villages visited, and 78 farmers were interviewed, identifying 19 cases of poisoning and one death.. The main insecticides used were formulations of endosulfan. Koutiala: 5 villages visited, 28 poisonings identified. The insecticides used were mainly formulations based on endosulfan, cypermethrin, chlorpyriphos and profenofos.

Most incidents occurred while working in the fields in the early afternoon. The victims were all adults, and none could read. They reported their symptoms as headaches, and streaming nose and sore and watering eyes. More than 50% of the insecticides responsible were based on endosulfan, in particular Mistral (endosulfan + chlorothalonil) and Callisulfan (endosulfan + cypermethrin). Most of the products were sold to farmers via the filière system through the CMDT. The majority of those poisoned were adults, who were largely illiterate. Farmers could name the pesticides they used, but found it difficult

to follow instructions about how to use the products. Those poisoned rarely went to health centres. In contrast, the government in Mali estimates the annual number of accidental deaths from pesticides in the country to be somewhere between 30-21070. A report in the Malian national press of July 200371 reported 64 poisonings and one death in the cotton growing areas. Following this report, a team from PAN Africa visited three villages (Talla, Ouassasso and Gla) and talked to 31 people who had been poisoned while using cotton pesticides.

Table 4.10 Summary of results of interviews in Mali, August 2001

Villages Kita

Villages visited 10

Number interviewed

Number of poisonings

Number of deaths




19 28

1 0

(10 per village)

Fana Koutiala Total

6 5

78 Not given*

Main insecticide active ingredients Endosulfan (three products); formulation of cypermethrin dimethoate and triazophos Endosulfan Endosulfan, cypermethrin, chlorpyriphos and profenofos


*Thought to be 10 per village, or 50. Source: Interviews and final project report, April 2004.

Box 3. Results from samples of cows milk and human urine, Cameroon and Senegal Samples of cows milk and human urine were collected from the province of Maroua in Cameroon (16 samples), and the department of Velingara in Senegal (14 samples). These were analysed by Ceres Locustox according to laboratory guidelines NF EN 1528 for milk and NF EN ISO 6468 for urine. There were no residues found of endosulfan in milk at the limit of determination of <0.9 µg/litre. The residues in urine were found between 0.3 and 0.5 µg/litre (limit of determination is 0.2 µg/litre).

Living With Poison


4.7 Conclusion With the exception of Benin, the populations of the studies were too small to be considered statistically significant. Some of the differences identified are explained by the size of the surveys, experience of those carrying out the studies, the varying methodologies, and random interviews as against interviews that targeted known cases of poisoning. Other differences may reflect national variations. However there are striking similarities in the symptoms experienced and in the conditions of use which indicate that pesticide related ill health is widespread, and that endosulfan is one of the pesticides most responsible

Benin appears to have the highest incidence of poisoning and ill health, but it is not clear whether this is because of the more detailed studies carried out over three years, or other specific national conditions. Table 4.11 shows the similarity of symptoms experienced. The gaps and differences are partly explained because in the study methodology groups asked farmers to describe their symptoms rather than checking against an agreed list.

Table 4.11 Comparison of symptoms identified in four country studies (information on Cameroon not available) Signs and symptoms

Severe headaches Dizziness / vertigo Loss of consciousness / coma (3%) Hand tremors Nausea and / or vomiting Vomiting Profuse sweating Staggering gait Over-salivation Eyes: red / burning Tearing / running eyes Visual problems Skin burns/reddening Skin rash / dermatitis Running nose General weakness Aches and pains Coughing Sneezing Fever Diarrhoea Distended stomach Delirium


Living With Poison

Benin (n=197)

Burkina Faso (n=100)

Mali (n=206+)

Senegal (n = 162)

20% 36%

92% 83%


62% 25% 13% 6% 10% 13% 47%

21% 9%

95% 17% 43% 95% 17% 60% 48% 38% 48% 64% 8%

54% 21% 13% 8% 8% 21% -

26% Yes Yes Yes Yes -

29% 31% 54% 11% 17% 3% 3% 3% 3% 2% 2% 1%

5 Are poisoning incidents inevitable? Almost every cotton farming family in West Africa has a story about lost income and work. No family seems to escape poisoning in the field or through food consumption. Table 5.1 shows recommended responses for dealing with cases of pesticide poisoning, particularly with endosulfan, and indicates the difficulty of realising these standards. While overall deaths in Benin declined as farmers were better informed, the human health costs remain staggering. In Benin, researchers have found some indication that there may be a greater than average incidence of malnutrition in cotton growing areas. Higher educational achievements have been noted in children from organic cotton families, essentially suggesting children born into families using pesticides under-perform at school. The causes are unclear, but pesticides should be investigated as a factor. Pesticide use and related financial pressures can reduce food security and may lead to restricted, less balanced and nutritious diets72. In Benin, 90% of pesticides imports are used on cotton73. Pesticide dependence - and reduction of adverse health and environmental impacts can be reduced or eliminated through adoption of IPM and organic strategies for cotton production. Farmers involved in the organic projects have commented that this not only saves them money on pesticides, but also improved their health, and has reduced their expenditure on medicines. Table 5.1 First aid for endosulfan poisoning and local ability to respond What to do in case of endosulfan exposure/accident74 Move victim to fresh air and call emergency medical care

Reality in the field

If not breathing, give artificial respiration; if breathing is difficult give oxygen

Oxygen only available, if at all, in hospitals in cities. First aid training limited

In case of contact with material, immediately flush skin or eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes

Running water not available in fields, and often not available in villages.

Speed in removing material from skin is of extreme importance

Possible response, if information available.

Remove and isolate contaminated clothing and shoes at the site

Isolation difficult: houses are shared and open, few safe storage facilities

Keep victim quiet and maintain normal body temperature

Victim can be kept quiet if information available, but no facilities to help maintain body temperature.

Effects may be delayed; keep victim under observation

No medical nearby facilities for observation; if hospitalised, competing with many other demands.

Keep run-off water out of sewers and water sources

Spraying may be near rivers, no facility to prevent run-off water reaching drinking water.

Nearest health centre often remote. No telephones are available

5.1 Living and working with pesticides Across the cotton growing areas of West Africa, millions of small scale farmers and farm workers are living and working in conditions that place them at a high risk of pesticide exposure and poisoning. Typically, water is not readily accessible near the fields of the drier zones where cotton is grown, and few houses have running water or a nearby standpipe. Farmers and workers cannot immediately wash their hands or bodies splashed with pesticides. Most cotton pesticides are applied with light ULV sprayers: hands are easily saturated and light changes of the wind wafts spray onto the body and clothing. Where a backpack sprayer is used, these

often leak as there are few maintenance facilities, and filling the tank is a high risk activity. Blockages in the spray nozzles are regularly cleared by blowing into them. The task of washing out spray equipment and work clothing is generally assigned to women, who may need to use the same bowls as for washing, clothes, cooking or eating utensils, or possibly for food preparation. In Benin, the survey found particular problems for women farmers, who do not have access to spray equipment and will often apply pesticides with same small hand pump used for spraying household insecticides, or even spread with a bucket and brush. Living With Poison


Most small-scale farmers and agricultural workers do not have access to information about the importance of using personal protective equipment, and even if they have the information they cannot afford to buy it, or are not given it by their employers. Even if these problems could be overcome, the problem remains of the difficulty of working in high temperatures wearing additional clothing. An additional problem is that when protective equipment is worn incorrectly or is of poor quality this may add to pesticide dangers: for example the product may accumulate inside gloves and concentrate its contact with the skin. Most of those spraying wear their ordinary working clothes, but do change after spraying. Many wear no shoes or only open sandals. In Burkina Faso, all those interviewed said that they clean their equipment and wash themselves after applying pesticides, but none wore overalls, glasses or a filtered mask, while 4% wore gloves, 21% used a mask, 38% wore shoes, 83% wore a long shirt and all wore trousers. In Benin, 95% of farmers

interviewed in ten villages in 2004 said they had never seen the protective equipment that they are recommended to wear. In fact farmers cannot take enough precautions to protect themselves. In Benin and elsewhere, young men take up pesticide spraying as an occupation and hire out their labour. One outcome is that spraying is determined by their availability rather than the recommended spraying times. In Burkina Faso, virtually all farmers spray first thing in the morning to avoid high temperatures. This is the time of most wind, and 96% said they spray in windy conditions. Although understandably very few (1%) spray at the hottest time of the day, those who do are more likely to be poisoned by absorption through the skin or inhalation due to sweating and heavy breathing brought on by high temperatures (table 5.2).

Table 5.2 Spraying practices in Burkina Faso Preferred spraying time


Weather conditions


Farmers spraying in the morning, during the coolest period


Farmers spraying in windy conditions (morning)



Midday, which is the hottest time, and when skin problems associated with spraying are common Evening


Strong sunshine

Calm atmosphere (ideal conditions)



Source: Utilisation des pesticides dans la rĂŠgion est du Burkina Faso : Rapport d'enquĂŞte aupres des producteurs cotonniers de dix villages de la province du Gourma, January 2004

Wind is a factor out of the applicator's control, and risks from spray drift to the ecosystem are enormous. The wind can easily blow spray drift into the areas around the field, killing beneficial insects and other bugs, and animals grazing in the zone. It is common in many villages for fields to be near the house. The spray drift from the field settles in the house, and on eating and cooking equipment. The whole family, not only those working in the field, but also those in the household and children playing nearby, are exposed on a regular basis. This leads to both acute poisoning and chronic low-level exposure. Several recent studies have shown how those living in spray areas are exposed to as high, or higher, levels of pesticides than spray operators75. In these conditions, and with regular exposure to pesticides, there is a high level of related ill-health.


Living With Poison

Households are exposed to all risks, and are affected through dermal, oral and inhalation routes. In Senegal, 90% of the poisoning cases identified in the nine villages investigated occurred while working on the farm, while 8% were a result of pesticidecontaminated food or water. In Benin, 46% of those interviewed indicated that symptoms of poisoning appeared more than an hour after exposure, 13% during application, and 4% immediately after exposure in the field or when cleaning equipment. The symptoms may continue for weeks or months. Endosulfan consistently appeared to be the most problematic active ingredient for health. The incidents described in boxes 4 and 5 provide an insight into the way that poisonings occur under the poor conditions of use operating in West African cotton systems.

Box 4. Examples of poisoning incidents in Benin Food poisoning of a family, Gannoussin, Commune de Founougo, Banikoara. On the afternoon of Saturday 17 August 2002, six children were taken to the Founougo health centre after eating Sorghum paste contaminated with a chemical pesticide. The 12 members of the Guida family were living in the hamlet of Gannoussin prior to this incident. As rats frequently plagued the family, they decided to use some of their Dursban cotton pesticide (active ingredient chlorpyriphos), and applied a small amount to groundnuts, which they left out as bait for the rats. Their four year old, Lamatou, who was returning this to the bedroom, dropped some in the sorghum flour stored near the entrance to the bedroom. She did not tell her mother about the accident. The next day, Fadéina prepared paste with this flour which she ate with her children Fadima (6), Mohamadou (5), Lamatou (4), Adama (3), and those of her co-spouse, Abou (7) and Oumarou (4). Less than one hour afterwards all the children began to complain of nausea before vomiting. The mother alerted neighbours who helped her take them to the health centre in Founougo. There, the mother was also taken ill and treated. The family were treated with charcoal based remedies, diazepam, and glucose serum, and were saved. Family food poisoning, Arbonga, Banikoara. A crowd of people arrived at the Banikoara hospital on Saturday 4 August 2002. All had been poisoned after

consuming a dish contaminated with endosulfan. On that morning, farmers in the area of Arbonga went to their fields as usual. They had eaten a breakfast of cowpea paste known as 'Alèlè' at Mme Bignon, who is renowned as the best restaurateur in the area. About an hour after eating, many began to complain of nausea and vomiting, and were also suffering from diarrhoea. Because of their state, they began to be taken to the Banikoara district hospital, some 10km away. A total of 39 people were taken to the hospital. Emergency treatment included charcoal based remedies, atropine, diazepam and glucose serum. Thanks to the treatments, no deaths were recorded. The restaurateur threw away all food stocks. Investigations led by the village delegate revealed that the cowpea was bought from a seller in Banikoara market who admitted to using endosulfan on his store of cowpea. Herbicide poisoning of four producers, Bensékou, Kandi On Friday 19 July 2002, Mamadou (20), Bachirou (18), Yacoubou (19) and Salifou (18) went as usual to their fields. They carried food for their rest break in a satchel that had previously been used to carry containers of Callifor G, a herbicide containing the active ingredients fluometuron, prometryn and glyphosate. Their field is far from the village, and they ate around 3 pm before setting off for

home. Within about 30 minutes they began to feel nauseous, with vomiting and diarrhoea. They lost consciousness but were found by another villager who alerted help. A car was found to take them to the health centre in Bensékou, where they were treated and recovered. Voluntary ingestion of a pesticide, Kassakou Djibo Abdoulaye was a very dedicated and productive farmer. One year he increased his cotton area at the expense of other crops in the hope of raising extra money. But problems in the supply chain meant that income was late reaching him, and he slowly had to sell sorghum and maize stocks intended for his family. When these were finished, he took out loans to survive. He then fell ill and was unable to pay for his treatment costs. He ingested Cotalm with the intention of committing suicide, and died in the hospital in Kandi. Poisoning incident during pesticides spraying Mora was hospitalised in Kandi, Benin, where he was taken by his neighbours. He had gone to spray his fields on 22 August 2002. After checking wind direction and positioning himself to avoid spray drift, he began work applying a product called Phaser, of which endosulfan is the active ingredient. However, the wind suddenly changed direction and he was covered in spray. He lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital in Kandi.

Living With Poison


Box 5. Non-cotton related cases of pesticide poisoning in Senegal Research in December 2002 at Kolda following local press reports of a pesticide poisoning incident led to the discovery of 30 victims. Analysis of the incriminated oil sample that was used to prepare mayonnaise identified the presence of chlorpyriphos. Further investigations led to the discovery of 103 cases linked to chemical pesticides in the Velingara district. These cases have been recorded in the PAN Africa database on accidents and

poisonings from pesticides. PAN Africa maintains a database of pesticide poisoning incidents collected from the regions of Kolda, Kaolack, Dakar, Thiès and Saint Louis, which covers both cotton growing areas and areas growing other crops. The database contains 468 cases of poisonings. Some incidents have resulted in mass deaths. For example research in December 2002 at Kolda following local press

reports of a pesticide poisoning incident led to the discovery of 30 victims. Analysis of the incriminated oil sample that was used to prepare mayonnaise identified the presence of chlorpyriphos. Further investigations led to the discovery of 103 cases linked to chemical pesticides in the Velingara district. These cases have been recorded in the PAN Africa database on accidents and poisonings from pesticides.

5.2 Pesticide storage and disposal Few farms have access to safe and lockable facilities. Pesticide storage in the home is common and this results in many poisoning incidents. In Benin, 86% of farmers interviewed said they stored pesticides in the household where they are kept under beds, or in the kitchen area. Children can easily access the pesticides. When some product is left in the container at the end of spraying, the packages may be blocked with paper, cloth or plastic, further increasing the risks of poisoning members of the household. The survey in Benin in 2000 found that 86% of households stored pesticides in their bedrooms, and 1% in the kitchen area. Only 9% store in an isolated position away from the home, while 2% store with agricultural inputs. There is a premium on empty containers in rural areas, and as a marketable commodity they are regularly reused or sold. The price quoted in Benin in 2005 for a five litre container was CFA 600 (â&#x201A;Ź1) and one litre for CFA 150 (â&#x201A;Ź0.30)76. In all countries, the containers then store household products, for example in Benin and Burkina Faso, they hold drinking water, oil and porridge. This can cause confusion, particularly as children are used to seeing pesticide containers storing food products. Practices for cleaning pesticide residues from containers vary. For example, in one village in Benin, significant care was taken to soak containers in the waste from palm wine production for three days and then wash thoroughly with soap, while in a Cameroon village containers to be sold in the market were only rinsed with soap.


Living With Poison

In Senegal, the GPCs in some villages construct a shop for storage of pesticides. These shops are managed by administrators (members of the GPC) who are in charge of the management of cotton inputs, collection and purchase of the cotton seeds at the village level. The problems occur after pesticides have been distributed to the farming households. In Senegal some farmers stored their pesticide products in the bedrooms and in the corridors or behind the house. Empty containers are used by rural populations to store water and food products, and they are also sold. These factors, along with contaminated food exposure and occupational use, expose tens of thousands of farming families to either acute or chronic poisonings. Their easy accessibility in the household is a factor in impulse consumption in times of anger or distress (sometimes leading to death when it may not have been the intention to commit suicide), while some cases of suicide documented arose from serious debt, unwanted pregnancies or a difficult relationship. For example in Benin in the 2002-2003 cotton season a young girl decided to die rather than be married to a man chosen by her parents, and drank a pesticide (one of three products, containing either endosulfan, chlorpyrifos or dimethoate). Other fatalities were the result of seemingly trivial incidents: in 2003 one young girl of 12 in Senegal swallowed pesticides when told not to watch television. In Benin a young girl was accused by her parents of having stolen meat from the soup prepared for the meal. When her father punished her, she reacted by drinking pesticides stored in the living room, and died.

5.3 Treatments available - self-medication and hospital responses Almost none of the household or occupational pesticide poisonings discussed in the interviews will be reported officially. Only the most acute cases of poisonings will go to a hospital, where there is a high chance of misdiagnosis. There is little likelihood of these reaching any central statistics, particularly as none of the countries has an operating poisons centre (only Senegal is in the process of establishing a centre). In February 2003, the nine villages visited by PAN Africa reported 43 cases in the latest cotton growing season, including nausea, headaches, diarrhoea and other symptoms. Of these, 36 had treated themselves rather than seek medical help, mainly using fresh or sour milk, shea nut butter, charcoal (powdered, diluted with water and consumed), or

diluted lemon juice. while ignoring the consequences of this For rashes many rub kerosene or lemon juice onto their skin (see 5.1.1). In Benin too, people indicated that they would first treat themselves using cow milk, massaging the body with shea nut butter, treating eyes with Calotropis procera leaves, drinking groundnut or palm oil, or eating kitchen salt. If still ill, they would then go to a local healer, and only for very serious cases would they go to hospital (see table 5.3). In 2000, investigations in Benin identified 265 cases, and of these 63% were sufficiently serious that people sought medical help. In the 2004 study in a different area of Benin, 28% of those interviewed had been hospitalised. In Mali, farmers interviewed confirmed that they generally treated themselves.

Table 5.3 Benin - Impacts and response Self-medication

Local healer

Health centre

Miscarriage following pesticide exposure




Fatalities - suicide related




Food poisoning




Exposure at work (headaches, nausea, etc)








Doctors have difficulty identifying pesticide poisoning, and are often not aware that this could cause the symptoms, many of which are similar to malaria or other illnesses. This can lead to misdiagnoses, or diagnosis may take days of working through a process of elimination. Antidotes such as atropine are available at hospitals, however while this is for organophosphate poisoning, it is often used for any pesticide poisoning incident partly because doctors do not know what product is responsible. Other treatments include giving oxygen or carrying out gastric lavage. Doctors may also try antihistamine drugs or antibiotics. Treatments recorded in Senegal included Amoxicillin (antibiotic), Celestene (antihistamine), among others.

5.4 Marketing and distribution practices that lead to incidents The study in Senegal pointed to problems related to distribution and sales of pesticides that contribute to

poisonings. The law prohibits the distribution and sales of pesticides without permission77, stipulates that products must sold in their original packaging, hermetically sealed and correctly labelled78, and requires a manufacturing, formulation or sales to be authorised by the ministries of rural development, public health, industry and commerce, trade and environment. Unfortunately sanctions are not applied and fines not levied, making implementation difficult. With market liberalisation, informal pesticide trade in has expanded. Taxes and customs duties have been introduced, but control is ineffective and pesticides are imported regardless of whether they are registered, their quality, their expiry date, or their conformity to laws and international conventions like the FAO Code of Conduct or the PIC List of the Rotterdam Convention. The Senegal cotton service, SODEFITEX, has changed spray advice over the last five years. Introduction of endosulfan coincided with advice to reduce from 11 sprays in 1993 to six in 2001, partly offsetting the rising cost of pesticides following the removal of subsidies. However quantities are supplied to farmers on credit on the basis of area of land to be planted with cotton.

Living With Poison


5.6 How farming communities receive and use information Farmers can declare higher areas, and may not spray all the product they have received. This can be deflected for use on other crops, or sold in local markets or outside Senegal. In Mali pesticides are sold through structures under the control of the CMDT (Compagnie Malienne de DĂŠveloppement Textile). Pesticides may be decanted into plastic sachets, drink bottles and other containers for sale without labels or directions, thus endangering health and the environment. In Benin pesticides are sold in containers very similar to those for cooking oil or petrol. This adds to cases of confusion or 'mistaken identity'. In Benin, for example, in 2004 a young girl mistook the pesticide for an oil dressing for cowpeas and subsequently died.

5.5 Scarcity of pest management for 'orphan' crops and storage The most widespread misunderstanding is possibly the failure to recognise that each pesticide has a specific use, leading to cotton pesticides being applied on other crops in cotton growing areas. This is reinforced by the lack of pest management advice for non-cotton crops. Cowpea is widely grown in West Africa, often by women for home consumption and for sale. While this crop was once grown without pesticides, they now expect to apply products, partly as a result of advice received. However there is little information for farmers about the correct products for cowpeas, and they are expensive and not readily accessible when needed. The products recommended by technical services are Kinikini (cyfluthrin and malathion) or Orthene 75 SP (acephate), but farmers have found that these do not adequately control pests. These problems encourage farmers to use cotton pesticides to treat cowpea pests. Villages in Benin confirmed that they readily buy either full or half full containers of cotton pesticides for use on cowpea79. The same problem exists for cereal storage, where products are expensive, ineffective or unavailable and farmers turn to cotton pesticides to protect their reserves. Grain storage products are only available through the extension services: farmers must incur the costs of travelling to their offices and paying cash, even then the products might not be available. On the other hand, cotton pesticides are available on credit and are brought to the village.


Living With Poison

In the five countries studied, cotton has been grown since the 1960s or earlier. Initially farmers received advice from the extension services. The 'training and visit' (T&V) system introduced by the World Bank in the 1980s was adopted as one of the extension approaches. Extension services would train 'lead' farmers on the assumption they would train others, and would visit to check the implementation of advice. In West African cotton systems there was also a strong influence of French agricultural research institutes. The system promoted packages of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. Extension workers were at times responsible for conveying misleading messages about pesticides, as they did not always respect their dangers. For example, they may use empty pesticide containers themselves for carrying food or drink, or fail to use personal protective equipment. T&V has widely been seen as a failure. Information was rarely disseminated, women were not trained, and visits from extension agents were intermittent. When evaluated, farmer feedback indicated that the approach was unsatisfactory. With market liberalisation competence has been transferred to farmers' organisations as the state withdraws from economic activities. Farmers have slowly begun to be more openly critical of service delivery, and voice their needs for a better system of advice. At the same time, there has been a major reduction in state extension agents, through redundancies, natural wastage and a minimal recruitment policy. In Benin, the service has been partly privatised since about 2000, with agents working on a one or two year contract, paid by a levy on cotton sales. Achieving results has become an important factor, and the new system has better focused training and increasing production. The organisation of advice in Cameroon, Mali and Senegal was also based on the T&V system. In cotton, farmers benefited from regular training in functional literacy and such crop management techniques as soil and seed preparation, use of chemical fertilisers and crop protection, harvest and sorting for ginning. By the beginning of privatisation, more than 30,000 farmers had been trained in Senegal, and about 3000 a year continue to be trained. In Cameroon 360,000 had been trained. In spite of this support, literacy levels are low across the region. For example in Benin approximately 80% of farmers are not able to read. In all countries there has been the same dramatic reduction in extension personnel, and transfer to

5.7 Essential or avoidable? — pest management options farmers' organisations. The existing village level cotton farming organisations came together, at the instigation of donors and the government, in a more organised form, through district and provincial level voting structures, as part of a national cotton producers' organisation. In Senegal the village-level GPCs form the Federation Nationale des Producteurs de Coton du Senegal, which in turn deals directly with SODEFITEX. Farmers are better able to defend their interests on credit and the cotton price, and feedback comments on the efficacy of fertilisers and pesticide products. Although this has not led to any reduction in pesticide use, in Benin pressure from farmers resulted in introduction of product formulations with a lower percentage of endosulfan.

Many activities have been developed to reduce or minimise dependence on chemical pesticides, and their adverse impacts on health and the environment. A number of programmes to promote IPM for cotton through Farmer Field School (FFS) trainings have been held in the cotton growing regions of West Africa. Some comparatively small but successful programmes have been initiated to support farmers to convert to organic cotton and connect them to the growing market for it in Europe. These are most notable in Benin, Mali and Senegal, and the interest of farmers exceeds capacity to support them. Fair trade cotton was launched in 2005, which includes a requirement to minimize the use of chemical pesticides.

Cotton IPM initiatives Recommendations of hazardous pesticides like endosulfan remain in place, despite the known level of poisonings and poverty conditions. Calendar spraying is rigidly followed. For example, the current spraying recommendations in Senegal are to start to spray on 25 August with endosulfan, followed by another application after 14 days. This will be followed by application of a pyrethroid and organophosphate formulation to be applied every 10 days. If there is high pest pressure, endosulfan would again be applied in November (at the end of the rainy season), followed every 14 days by a pyrethroid-organophosphate product. In Benin, the first treatment of endosulfan is recommended to be applied 45 days after sowing and repeated after 14 days, followed by 14-day treatments with a pyrethroid-organophosphate product. Since the reintroduction of endosulfan in 1999 for cotton production in Senegal, there has been a rapid increase in quantities used. From 2000-2004, Callisulfan, a product containing endosulfan, accounted for a large percentage of total pesticide use, for example 61% in the 2000-01 season. The failure to convey information about the toxicity of the products in regular use continues to lead to tragic cases of misuse, for example to treat headlice or bed bugs. One farmer spread endosulfan around the mouth of his drinking container to keep bees away. In Benin, a young girl died of vomiting and diarrhoea 48 hours after sleeping on a bed treated with pesticides to kill fleas. There are many similar stories. In Benin, endosulfan is seen as 'the most efficient way to catch fish': when thrown into a section of a river fish are stunned and float to the surface. Locals have noticed that the fish must be smoked quickly to preserve them or they will disintegrate.

There is a long tradition of policy support for IPM to promote more sustainable agriculture. The Council of Ministers of countries that are members of the CILSS (Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel) adopted a commitment to IPM in April 1977 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. A project to control the main pests in the Sahel (Recherche et Développement de la Lutte Intégrée contre les ennemis des principales cultures vivrières dans les pays du Sahel) ran from 19801986, with support from the US Agency for International Development and technical input from the FAO. It has been reinforced since then by further training and materials in IPM. IPM strategies are based on observation of pests and predators and an understanding of their ecology and biology by farmers. IPM practices and analytical techniques aim to manage crops and predators to diminish pest attacks, the incidence of plant disease, and to reduce the use of chemical pesticides. The most successful strategies are those training farmers through FFS. This approach requires an initial investment in farmers, and funds have not yet been invested to scale up training to all farmers in the region. The training is intensive through a complete cotton season, using farmer practice (that is farmers continue with their usual pesticide applications), and IPM plots, where techniques are taught and implemented. Farmers are taught: ● ●

● ●

how to recognize pests and their damage; the natural enemies of pests and how to encourage them to the field; improve soil fertility; recognize when a disease may cause economic loss; and to use a number of lower-cost pest management strategies. Living With Poison


Some cotton companies have introduced a simplified form of IPM which uses targeted controls (lutte ĂŠtalĂŠe ciblĂŠe, LEC) with the am of applying lower levels of pesticides. In Benin, for example, some farmers have been trained to observe pests weekly on 40 plants, and to follow fixed thresholds of pest levels for the six main cotton pests in Benin. Spraying is carried out only if these thresholds are attained. The strategies have reduced pesticide applications by half in comparison with classical treatments. However the pesticides recommended by LEC are hazardous, and include the use of endosulfan. IPM training on cotton via FFSs was conducted in Mali in 2002, and in addition to farmers, trained trainers from Senegal (three of PAN Africa and two of SODEFITEX), Mali and Burkina Faso. Following this in 2003, PAN Africa trained farmers at Kunkhane in Velingara region; and the trainers from SODEFITEX trained farmers at Koussanar, Tambacounda. PAN Africa's project 'IPM for cotton pests', initiated in 2000, has trained more than 500 cotton growers. The results have been positive, especially in reducing the costs of production. PAN Africa is supervising further IPM training in the 20052006 cotton season with two producer groups in Velingara department.

Organic cotton Organic cotton projects have been initiated by NGOs in Benin, Mali and Senegal. Although starting from a small base the projects have generated significant farmer interest, and are expanding. In Senegal, the NGO ENDA Pronat has led an organic cotton project since 1995 in the area of Koussanar, and has trained more than 1370 farmers. SODEFITEX, in partnership with Agroecol (an NGO) started an organic cotton project in 2004. In Benin, OBEPAB has built farmer capacity to produce organic cotton since 1995 in two regions of the country, and is now successfully selling the harvest to European outlets. In Mali, production of organic cotton began in 1998 with Helvetas and is now one of the largest in the region. The organic projects use an approach similar to the IPM FFS, with field agent Farmer Field School (FFS) approach to teach farmers techniques of physical controls against cotton pests. These include training to recognize pests and their natural enemies, collection and destruction of pests, recognition of disease, how to evaluate the level of pest damage


Living With Poison

which requires intervention, and a range of other strategies. In addition, pest management mixtures based on neem (Azadirachta indica) are widely used in organic (and also in IPM systems). With guidance, farmers can easily prepare an effective formulation as the neem tree is found throughout the region. In the field, many farmers use non-chemical strategies for pest control, based primarily on cultural practices and natural means (encouraging predators). Among the cultural means practised are the selection of varieties resistant to pest, planting early maturing varieties which avoid or limit pest attacks, association of rotation and trap crops.

5.8 Conclusion Pesticides are becoming a brake on development and a threat to future prosperity; they fuel ill health, malnutrition and a vicious cycle of debt and despair among small farmers in particular, and are part of the continent's drift backwards into poverty. The measures necessary to reduce the likelihood of pesticide harm are known, and are recommended by governments (see for example Annex 2, recommendations in Benin). Many of these measures are simply not possible to be attained under the conditions of use in cotton-growing areas, for example: wear complete personal protective equipment, keep products away from children and animals, avoid exposure to pregnant women and those who are ill, avoid inhaling the products, have soap and water available for washing, only spray in the same direction as the wind, use the appropriate equipment in good state of repair. Any visit to a cotton-growing area quickly demonstrates the difficulty of meeting these conditions, as shown in the evidence from these studies. It points to the urgency of increasing the availability of safer and more sustainable strategies for pest management. Both IPM and organic strategies have been successfully introduced in the region. The IPM programmes have been intermittent and not sustained, but demonstrate that pesticide use can be cut by 50%, thereby reducing costs and hazards to farmers. Organic cotton projects are expanding and while they currently cover a relatively small number of farmers, they bring a good return to farmers. However these are all supported by NGOs, and would greatly benefit from government interest and support.

6 Conclusion Pesticides are frequently used in an unsafe manner and without understanding of their hazards in the cotton zones of Central and West Africa. The roots of the problem lie in the conditions of use throughout the region. Even if trained, these conditions make it extremely difficult for farmers, workers and their families to take necessary precautions to prevent adverse consequences for health or the environment. Numerous poisonings and accidents have resulted from cotton pesticides in the five countries. It is difficult to obtain precise information on poisonings and accidents as it is rare for these to be reported or recorded at the time of the incident. None of the countries maintains statistics on pesticide poisonings, and generally only cases of death, self harm and mass poisonings are publicised. The reasons for lack of data are often clear, and can be characterised as:

Villages are scattered and often remote with poor channels of communication (roads and telecommunications), and access to certain villages is particularly difficult

Those affected cannot get to health centres for medical care and normally carry out selfmedication

Health workers cannot readily diagnose poisonings except for very acute cases arising from direct exposure

The absence of poison control centres means that health workers have no means of obtaining support to identify symptoms or means of treatment

Levels of literacy are low

Anonymity is important as villages can be worried (rightly or wrongly) about victimisation and so refuse to name victims; and in some areas women in particular are reluctant to talk about accidents linked to pesticides

Those affected often themselves accept ill-health as a 'normal' consequence of pesticide application

Investigations are almost never carried out as authorities lack resources to do so - even if they had information on incidents

Faced with official requests, it is difficult for victims to give precise information about poisoning incidents, such as dates and the names of pesticides responsible

In Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, endosulfan is the pesticide most often quoted by the victims as being responsible for poisonings and accidents. It was responsible for 69% of the cases investigated in Benin and 31% in the survey of nine cotton-growing villages in Senegal. Farmers in Mali estimated endosulfan formulations were responsible for more than 50% of the poisonings. Farmers generally name products rather than active ingredients, however in a formulation of a pyrethroid and an organophosphate (OP) it is more likely that the latter would be responsible for symptoms of poisoning. In Benin, formulations of the pyrethroid

lambdacyhalothrin with the OPs dimethoate and profenofos were named in 14% of cases, and the OP chlorpyrifos in 6% of cases. Farmers in Senegal also named formulations containing profenofos. Four cases of a formulation containing triazophos were noted in Benin, while in Senegal a formulation containing this OP was cited in 13% of cases. The similar conditions of use demonstrated in Chapter 5, and the common cotton filière system in francophone West Africa, suggests that studies in all these countries would, to varying degrees, find similar results.

Living With Poison


It seems that most farmers associate pesticide application with ill-health, but do not report problems to the authorities, or ask the cotton companies to provide safer alternatives. One exception seems to have been in Benin where the exceptionally high levels of poisonings and fatalities between 20002003 encouraged farmers to persuade the authorities to provide a formulation with a lower percentage of the endosulfan active ingredient. These kinds of problems are widely recognized by international bodies and the FAO revised and strengthened the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides in 2002 to assist governments with limited resources. Additionally, the international Rotterdam Convention on PIC has been developed to provide an early warning to governments in developing countries of pesticides banned elsewhere. The PIC process additionally calls on governments in developing countries to identify those pesticides causing problems under local conditions of use, but which are not banned or severely restricted elsewhere. This kind of information would be invaluable for sharing between developing countries, however this report demonstrates the difficulties to collect such information. Although under this Convention there is no obligation on governments to take regulatory action against products responsible for poisonings, there would be a logic to their doing so. This is a further lack of incentive to investigate and report, unless there is an intention to take national regulatory action. It is not clear to what extent the situation could be improved by better information and training, as the conditions of use may mean farmers are powerless


Living With Poison

to change the way they use pesticides. Nevertheless, the cotton companies have a responsibility to provide farmers with much better information about the hazards of pesticides, and recognition of signs and symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Simple systems to help communities monitor and record health effects after spraying, and details of where to report problems, would help governments identify particularly hazardous pesticides and take more urgent action. More importantly, the known benefits of IPM training should be recognized and efforts made to train all farmers in the cotton growing areas. IPM is not only a technical innovation which can be adapted to the economic and social conditions of cotton farmers, but also encourages innovation and strengthens communication between farmers in disseminating strategies for sustainable pest management and improvements in soil fertility. By contributing to lower input costs and less exposure to hazardous pesticides, it improves household income, reduces loss of work days from pesticide poisoning and cut expenditure on medicines. Organic cotton strategies should receive greater policy and practical support. Organic production eliminates the use of pesticides and while initially yields are lower, the premium paid to farmers and money saved from not buying pesticides compensates farmers. The successful organic cotton projects in Benin, Mali and Senegal have found that, over time, yields increase and the best organic farmers achieve similar yields to conventional growers. The demand for organic cotton in Europe is increasing, offering market-based solutions to pesticide reduction.

The report makes the following recommendations: 1 The pesticides most commonly identified with poisoning and ill-health in the region, in particular the active ingredient endosulfan, should be banned and their use phased out as a matter of urgency.

2 Research to identify safer and more sustainable options to replace endosulfan, in particular targeting biological and other non-chemical controls, should be initiated immediately, and should be carried out in a participatory manner and integrated with farmer training.

3 IPM training in using a Farmer Field School approach should be instituted in all cotton growing countries, and particularly in Cameroon where there has not yet been such a programme; the FFS training should be scaled up as rapidly as possible to become the main form of pest and production management for cotton and crops in associated rotations.

4 Efforts should be made to monitor and investigate poisoning incidents in areas of intensive pesticide use, particularly in cotton growing areas; governments could encourage health, research, academic and other appropriate institutions to undertake studies and disseminate results, and should ensure that all studies are publicized.

5 Poison control centres, as developed by the World Health Organisation, should urgently be established in each country, or at minimum on a regional basis.

6 Awareness should be raised about the early warning role of the Rotterdam Convention, and all relevant stakeholders should be encouraged to become familiar with the process of notifying 'severely hazardous pesticide formulations' that cause problems under the conditions of use in developing countries (or countries with economies in transition), and encouraged to complete the guidance forms developed for recording poisoning incidents.

7 Information about poisoning incidents and the prevailing conditions of use should be a standard part of the government's risk assessment when registering pesticides, reviewing pesticide registration, or deciding against registering a pesticide.

8 Farmers and their organizations, and particularly women's organizations, should be given greater power to interact with the bodies that determine production strategies, in order to ensure that their health, environmental, social and economic needs, and other preferences are taken into account when decisions about production strategies are made.

This report underlines the urgency of introducing systematic pesticide incident investigation and reporting, safer and more sustainable pest management strategies in African cotton systems, and a more open and collaborative process of decision-making for pest control in the conventional cotton sector.

Living With Poison


References 1. Ton P, Tovignan S and Davo Vodouhê S, Endosulfan deaths and poisonings in Benin, Pesticides News, 2000, Vol 47, pp12-14. 2. Public Health Impact of Pesticides Used in Agriculture, WHO in collaboration with UN Environment Programme, WHO, Geneva, 1990. 3. ILO, 'Chemicals in the Working Environment', in World Labour Report, 1994, Geneva, 1994. 4. International Programme on Chemical Safety, The WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard and Guidelines to classification, 2004. 5. Quijano, RF, Risk assessment in a third-world reality: an endosulfan case history, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2000 OctDec;6(4):312-7. 6. Quijano R, Endosulfan poisoning in Kasargod, Kerala, India. Report of a fact finding mission, Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network, Kerala, India, 2002. 7. PAN Asia Pacific, Position Paper on endosulfan, 5Btt_ news%5D=18&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=13&cHash=57 91efed69 8. Usha S, Harikrishnan VR, Endosulfan - fact sheet and answers to common questions, IPEN Pesticide Working Group Project, September 2005. rfiles/endosulfan_factsheet.pdf 9. Mancini F, Van Bruggen AHC, Jiggins JLS, Ambatipudi AC, Murphy, FMP, Acute pesticide poisoning among female and male cotton growers in India, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 11:221-232, July/September 2005. 10. German Federal Environment Agency Umweltbundesamt, Endosulfan: Draft dossier prepared in support of a proposal of endosulfan to be considered as a candidate for inclusion in the UN-ECE LRTAP protocol on persistent organic pollutants, Berlin, September 2004. 11. 12. Project EcoHealth, funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre. 13. FAO, The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2004 (SOCO). 14. FAO, 15. Mutume, G. African cotton farmers battling to survive: Mounting opposition to Northern farm subsidies, Africa Recovery (now called Africa Renewal), Vol.17 #1 (May 2003), page 18. 16. Ton P, Organic cotton Production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Pesticides, policy and livelihood series, Pesticide Action Network UK, London, 2002. 17. Badiane O, Ghura D, Goreux L, Masson P, Cotton Sector Strategies in West and Central Africa, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2867, July 2002. 18. Watkins K, Jung-ui Sul, 'Cultivating poverty: the impact of US cotton subsidies on Africa', Oxfam Briefing Paper, September 2002. 19. Ton P, Organic cotton production in sub-Saharan Africa: the need for scaling-up. A report for PAN UK's Pesticides Poverty and Livelihoods project, August 2002. 20. societes.htm and 21. USAID, Summary and findings of the West African cotton assessment, September 25-October 14 2004, 13


Living With Poison

January 2005. 22. See Ton 2002 (op cit) for discussion of the impact of structural adjustment on cotton production in sub-Saharan Africa 23. _coton.htm 24. Ferrigno S, Ratter SG, Ton P, Vodouhê DS, Williamson S, Wilson J, Organic Cotton: a new development path for African smallholders?, Gatekeeper Series 120, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 2005. 25. Crop Protection Association (UK) Handbook 2002, p19. 26. Silvie P, Deguine JP, Nibouche S, Michel B, Vaissayre M, Potential of threshold-based interventions for cotton pest control by small farmers in West Africa, Crop Protection 20:297-301, 2001. 27. Vodouhê DS, Latifou Aboubacary I, Les Pesticides au Benin, 2nd edition, PAN Africa, Dakar, April 2004. 28. Organic cotton Country Report: Senegal, PAN UK, 2002. 29. Williamson S, The Dependency Syndrome: pesticide use by African smallholders, PAN UK, London, 2003. 30. Williamson S, ibid. 31. Ton P, Organic cotton production in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pesticides Policy and Livelihoods Series, PAN UK, London, 2002. 32. Toulmin C, Gueye B, Transformations in West African Agriculture: a report for the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club, Paris, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 2003. 33. Vodouhê DS, Latifou Aboubacary I, Les Pesticides au Benin, 2nd edition, PAN Africa, Dakar, April 2004. 34. Africa Stockpiles Programme, 35. Vodouhê SD, Latifou Aboubacary, I, Les Pesticides au Benin, 2nd edition, Monitoring and Briefing No 10, Dakar, April 2004, pp 35-39. 36. Projet RSP/Minagri/GTZ 2002, reported in Les Pesticides au Cameroun, 2nd edition, PAN Africa, Senegal, June 2003 37. Souop D, Minagri, Obsolete pesticides in Cameroon, presentation at OECD-FAO-UNEP Workshop on Obsolete Pesticides, Alexandra, Virginia US, 13-15 September 2000. 38. FAO Inventory data, FAO email to PAN UK 15 June 2006. 39. Mark Davis, FAO, pers. comm, email 15/5/06. 40. PAN Africa, Les Pesticides au Sénégal . 2nd edition, Monitoring and Briefing, N° 8 , July 2003. 41. Ligan D, La situation actuelle de représentation des producteurs de coton au sein de la filière coton et ses conséquences. Communication, DPLR, 2005, 7pp. 42. Décret N°2006-234 du 05 mai 2006 portant sur la définition du cadre institutionnel de représentation des producteurs au sein de l'interprofession de la filière cotton. 43. UNCTAD report on world cotton industry, 44. The remaining CILSS countries are Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Niger. 45. See PR-PRAO website: 46. The IRAC is the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee of CropLife International. It was formed by the world's agrochemical companies in 1984 to assess the growing threat of pest resistance around the globe.

47. PR-PRAO, Rapport de synthèse de la réunion du 16 au 18 mars 1999. PR-PRAO, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, 1999, 4pp. 48. Soclo, HH, with Azontonde AH, Dovonon LF, Djibril R, Sagbo, AU. Etude de l'impact de l'utilisation des engrais chimiques et des pesticides par les populations riveraines sur les écosystèmes (eaux de surface, végétaux et faune) des Aires Protégées (Parcs Nationaux et Zones cynégétiques) due Benin, Rapport Final. World Bank, Global Environment Facility, Ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Elevage et de la Pêche, Centre National de Gestion des Réserves de Faune, Parcs nationaux due Benin (CENAGREF), Programme de conservation et de Gestion des Parcs Nationaux, June 2003. 49. OBEPAB results, 2004. 50. Quijano R, Endosulfan poisoning in Kasargod, Kerala, India. Report of a fact finding mission, Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network, Kerala, India, 2002. 51. Environmental Justice Foundation, 5 St Peter's Street, London N1 8JD, UK. 52. Dinham, B, The Pesticide Hazard. Zed Books, London, 1993. 53. PAN UK, 31 die from endosulfan poisoning in Sudan. Pesticides News 13, 1991. 54. Aerial Spraying of Tse-Tse Files (Glossina spp.) in Rhodesia with Ultra Low Volumes of Endosulfan, N.G. Chapman Trans. Rhod Sci. Associ, 57,1976, pp12-21. 55. Pesticides are active at different strengths, and a straight comparison of quantity used by weight is not always a sound guide to dependency levels. For example, the efficacy of one pesticide may require the application of five litres or kilogram/ha compared to 0.5 kg/ha (l/ha) of another. Ideally, price and quantities together help indicate whether farmers are more or less dependent, but these figures are rarely available in Africa. 56. FAO Code of Conduct, op cit, Article 7.5. 57. Minot N, Daniels L, Impact of global cotton markets on rural poverty in Benin, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, USA, 2002. 58. Toulmin C, Gueye B, Transformations in West African Agriculture, A report for the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club, Paris, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK, 2003. 59. InFocus, Africa on the Agenda 3, 60. Childhood Pesticide Poisoning: Information for advocacy and action, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, UN Environment Programme, World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, May 2004. 61. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

(ATDSR), Toxicological profile for Endosulfan, US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, September 2000 62. ATSDR, 2000, op cit. p 152. 63. PAN UK field research, August 2003 64. Cole DC, Sherwood S, et al, Pesticides and health in highland Ecuadorian potato production: assessing impacts and developing responses, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2002, Vol 8, No 3, 182-190. 65. Agbomadomalè V, Organic cotton production in Africa and gender: the case of Djidja, in Baier A. and Hammer J. (eds.) Proceedings Back to the roots: The farmers perspective on organic cotton production and marketing 26-30 October 2004 Workshop and Field visit in Benin, Forthcoming, PAN 2005. 66. Ton P, Tovignan S, Vodouhê, SD, Endosulfan deaths and poisonings in Benin, Pesticides News 47, March 2000, 12-14. 67. OBEPAB, Project Ecosanté, unpublished report, 2004. 68. Utilisation des pesticides dans la région est du Burkina Faso : Rapport d'enquêtte aupres des producteurs cotonniers de dix villages de la Province du Gourma, ARFA, Provisional Report, January 2004. 69. Kuiseu J, Thiam A, Effets des pesticides utilises en culture de coton sur les agriculteurs et l'environnement en afrique sub-saharienne, Rapport final, April 2004. 70. Camara M, Haidara F, Traore A, Etude socioéconomique de l'utilisation des pesticides au Mali, Institut du Sahel, University of Hanover, and FAO, 2001, 104 pp. 71. l'Indépendant, N° 774, 9 July 2003. 72. PAN UK field research, August 2004. 73. Tovignan S, Nuppenau E, Adoption of organic cotton in Benin: does gender play a role? Deutscher TropentagBerlin, 5-7 October 2004, Conference on Rural Poverty Reduction through Research for Development and Transformation 74. VOARISOA, Les risques lies à l'emploi des pesticides: un guide pour la formation en matière de santé préventive, 1996. 75. Cole DC, Sherwood S, et al, Pesticides and health in highland Ecuadorian potato production: assessing impacts and developing responses, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2002, 8:3 pp182190. 76. Pers comm., villagers near Abomey, Benin, August 2005. 77. Law 84-14, Article 2. 78. Law 84-14, Article 10. 79. Pers. comm. August 2005.

Living With Poison


Annex 1 Endosulfan information and fact sheets Endosulfan, EXTOXNET (Extension Toxicology Network), Pesticide Information Profiles, A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, and the University of California at Davis and the Institute for Environmental Toxicology, Michigan State University, revised June 1996, Endosulfan datasheet. Ronald Macfarlane, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, Penang, Malaysia. June 1996, 6pp. Toxicological profile for Endosulfan, US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATDSR), September 2000. Endosulfan - Fact sheet and answers to common questions, S Usha and VR Harikrishnan, IPEN Pesticide Working Group Project, September 2005. End of the road for endosulfan: a call for action against a dangerous pesticide. A summary report by the Environmental Justice Foundation, Endosulphan, National Toxics Network (Australia) Chemical Information Sheet,

Endosulfan fact sheet Reproduced from Pesticides News No.47, March 2000. Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide and acaricide, and acts as a contact poison in a wide variety of insects and mites. Endosulfan is effective against a wide range of insects and certain mites on cereals, coffee, cotton, fruit, oilseeds, potato, tea, vegetable and other crops(1). It can also be used as a wood preservative.

DDT, PCBs and endosulfan, may be part of the cause for the decrease in the quality of semen, in increase in testicular and prostate cancer, an increase in defects in male sex organs, and increased incidence of breast cancer which has been observed in the last 50 years. Endosulfan has also been found to cause mutations(13).

Endosulfan is sold as a mixture of two different forms of the same chemical (alpha- and betaendosulfan). Its colour is cream to brown and it smells like turpentine(2). Endosulfan is a highly toxic substance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies endosulfan in Category II (moderately hazardous). The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) classifies it as a Category 1b (highly hazardous) pesticide(3). Short-term toxicity is high, and influenced by the solvents and emulsifiers used to dissolve it(4). Endosulfan is easily absorbed by the stomach, by the lungs and through the skin, meaning that all routes of exposure can pose a hazard(5). Exposure to endosulfan may result from, for example: breathing air near where it has been sprayed; drinking water contaminated with it; eating contaminated food; touching contaminated soil; smoking cigarettes made from tobacco with endosulfan residues; or working in an industry where endosulfan is used(6). Proper protective clothing (safety goggles, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, respirator) is needed to prevent poisoning when handling endosulfan(7).

Environmental fate As for the environmental effects of endosulfan use, the compound has adverse effects on aquatic systems, and is highly toxic to fish, birds, fowl, bees and wildlife(14). According to other sources(15,16) however, endosulfan is relatively non-toxic to beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps, ladybirds and some mites. Endosulfan has only a moderate potential for bioaccumulation(17). It breaks down much faster than the other organochlorines(18), and it leaves the body fairly quickly(19). Despite its rapid degradation in water, endosulfan can persist for a relatively long period when bound to soil particles, which can be a source of later contamination(20). The advantage is that there is no threat of leaching to groundwater, but the disadvantage is that endosulfan may be particularly prone to run-off immediately after spraying. 'Adequate management of soil and water on cotton farms is required to prevent transport offfarm to minimise this threat.' (21). The half-life of endosulfan in water and in most fruits and vegetables is reported to be three to seven days(22). However, half-life in sandy loam is reported to be between 60 and 800 days(23). The degradation rate is dependent on the pH of the soil: alkaline conditions favour degradation, whereas acidic conditions slow down the process(24,25). Adding endosulfan to soil appears to reduce the rate of degradation of other organochlorine pesticides already present in the soil, either because endosulfan reduces the populations of microorganisms, or because of reduction of the activity of micro-organisms responsible for degradation of the other organochlorines(26).

Acute toxicity Stimulation of the Central Nervous System is the main characteristic of endosulfan poisoning. Symptoms of acute exposure include hyperactivity, tremors, decreased respiration, salivation, anaemia(8), and also unco-ordination and a loss of ability to stand(9). Other signs of poisoning include gagging, vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation, convulsions and loss of consciousness. Blindness has been observed in cows, sheep and pigs which have grazed in fields sprayed with the compound(10). People with diets low in protein may be more sensitive to the effects of this pesticide(11). Chronic effects Although the short-term toxicity of endosulfan is of immediate concern, there are also long-term effects to consider. Animal studies have shown effects on the kidneys, developing foetus, and liver from longer-term exposure to low levels of endosulfan. The ability of animals to fight infection was also lowered(12). Organochlorine compounds, including


Living With Poison

Breakdown product A big drawback with endosulfan is that the breakdown product, endosulfan sulphate, is more persistent than the parent compound, accounting for 90% of the residue in 11 weeks. Sulphate formation increases as temperatures increase(27). In Australia significant amounts of endosulfan sulphate were observed in soil prior to spraying as residue from applications in previous seasons(28). The regulatory status of endosulfan differs from one country to another, but a lot of countries have

found it relevant to put in place specific regulation on endosulfan use, by banning, restricting, or severely restricting it. Endosulfan has been banned in at least the following countries: Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden(29), Belize and Singapore(30), and the Brazilian state of Rondonia(31). Colombia(32) and Indonesia(33) were preparing for a ban on endosulfan. Its use is not allowed either in rice fields in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand. Use is restricted or severely restricted in: Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Kuwait, the Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka and Thailand(34) and in Madagascar(35). Campaigns have been going on world-wide for several years to ban endosulfan completely(36,37). References 1. Ghadiri, H., C.W. Rose and D.W. Connel, Controlled environment study of the degradation of endosulfan in soils. In G.A. Constable and N.W. Forrester (eds.), Challenging the future. Proceedings of the World Cotton Research Conference - 1, Brisbane, Australia, February 14-17, 1994, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia, 1995, pp. 583-588; 2. ATSDR, Endosulfan datasheet. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Public Health Service, US Department for Health and Human Services, USA, September 1995, 3pp; 3. PANAP, Endosulfan datasheet. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, Penang, Malaysia. June 1996, 6pp; 4. EXTOXNET, Endosulfan datasheet. Extoxnet, Ithaca N.Y., USA. October 1992, 4pp; 5. PANAP 1996, op cit; 6. ATSDR, 1995, op cit; 7. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 8. ATSDR, 1995, op cit; 9. EXTOXNET, 1992, op cit; 10. EXTOXNET, 1992, op cit; 11. ANAP, 1996, op cit; 12. ATSDR, 1995, op cit;13. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 14. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 15. EXTOXNET, 1992, op cit; 16. Kern, M.J. and Geiss, Investigations on the suitability of Thiodan (for IPM on cotton). Paper presented at the World Cotton Research Conference - 2, Athens, Greece, September 6-12, 1998, Hoechst Schering AgrEvo GmbH, Frankfurt, Germany; 17. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 18. Endosulfan is often compared favourably to organochlorines like DDT, aldrin and dieldrin, as it is less persistent in the environment. It should be noted that such a comparison is likely to seriously underestimate its absolute environmental effects; 19. ATSDR, 1995, op cit; 20. Ghadiri, 1995, op cit; 21. Kimber, S.W.L., S.K. Southan, N. Ahmad and I.R. Kennedy, The fate of endosulfan sprayed on cotton. In G.A. Constable and N.W. Forrester (eds.), Challenging the future. op cit pp. 589-594. 22. Ghadiri, 1995, op cit; 23. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 24. EXTOXNET, 1992, op cit; 25. Ghadiri, 1995, op cit; 26. Ghadiri, 1995, op cit; 27. EXTOXNET, 1992, op cit; 28. Kimber et al, 1995, op cit; 29. Muilerman, H., Society for Nature and Environment, The Netherlands, personal communication, 30 November 1999; 30. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 31. De Oliveira, J.N.A. and A. De Oliveira Toniato, The alarming use of agrochemicals in Rondonia, Brazil. PN 27, March 1995, pp. 4-7; 32. PAN-Africa, Bannir l'endosulfan en Colombie? In: Pesticides and Alternatives, No. 001, September 1996, pp. 11; 33. Indonesia bans OPs. PN 34, December 1996, p. 18; 34. PANAP, 1996, op cit; 35. Von Hildebrand, A., Pesticide problems and IPM: Implementation in Madagasca, PN 25, September 1994, pp. 12-13; 36. PANAfrica 1996, op cit; 37. PANAP, 1996, op cit.

Annex 2 Precautions recommended to take before, during and after using pesticide products Précautions à prendre avant, pendant et après l'utilisation des produits phytosanitaires Précautions à prendre Concernés


Hommes et animaux

1 23456-

Porter équipement complet de protection Eloigner les enfants et les animaux Eviter les malades et les femmes enceintes Eviter l'inhalation des produits Disposer de savon et d'eau Repérer la direction du vent




Porter équipement complet de protection Eviter les enfants ou les vieux comme opérateurs Ne pas travailler par temps de grand vent ou temps chaud Ne pas travailler lorsqu'il pleut ou temps lourd Eviter le contact du corps avec le produit Ne pas traiter contre le vent Eviter une trop grande exposition de l'opérateur Ne pas manger, ni fumer ni boire Consulter un médecin en cas d'intoxication avec le produit incriminé


Ne pas utiliser un matériel qui fuit ou coule Ne pas déboucher les buses en soufflant Bien orienter l'appareil




Appareil et matériel



Utiliser un appareil adéquat en bon état de fonctionnement Disposer d'un outillage pour réparation












Ne pas faire le transport 13mixte Lire attentivement 14l'étiquette Refuser les produits à 15emballage défectueux Ne pas utiliser les produits trop vieux Ne pas utiliser les produits sans étiquette Ne pas utiliser les produits périmés Garder le produit dans son emballage d'origine Utiliser les produits demandés et obtenus par voie officielle Adapter la quantité du produit à la superficie à traiter Eviter d'utiliser les ustensiles de cuisine pour les préparations de bouillie

Appliquer un dosage recommandé Eviter le surdosage ou le sous dosage Couvrir la surface à traiter de façon homogène

Rechercher la direction du vent

Eloigner les animaux Ne pas contaminer les cours d'eau Contrôler les dérives






Se laver (eau et savon) Ne pas rentrer dans un champ immédiatement après traitement Ne pas boire de l'alcool juste après traitement Ne pas consommer un végétal juste après traitement Respecter le délai de carence Eloigner les personnes des zones traitées

Laver les appareils et les équipements avant de se laver Ne jamais rincer les appareils et matériels dans les cours d'eau Ranger les appareils après nettoyage Ne pas transvaser le produit dans les bouteilles de boisson Ne pas réutiliser les emballages vides Détruire et enterrer les emballages vides Ne jamais conserver le reste de produit dans l'appareil Bien ranger le produit dans un magasin sous clé.

Ne pas contaminer les cours d'eau Ne pas utiliser le reste des produits pour pêche et chasse



Bien évaluer l'opportunité du traitement


Eviter la phytotoxicité

Source: Rapport UPC-Benin sur Module de formation su le traitement phytosanitaire du cotonnier

Living With Poison


Annex 3 Reporting incidents of poisoning under the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent This form is available at in English, French and Spanish. Part A is to be completed by the country's Designated National Authority (DNA). Part B is designed to provide "a clear description of the incidents related to the problem, including the adverse effects and the way in which the formulation was used", as described in the Convention. The form consists of a series of closed questions or checklist that captures the basic information needed with options for including additional information where it is available. It is not expected that in every instance all the information will be completed. The forms should be given to the DNA with a request to hand them on the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention, and a copy may be sent directly to the Secretariat at the FAO (see below). If other formats meet the information requirements of the Convention, they may be used in preparing a submission and forwarded through the DNA. Although this form (Part B) should be completed for each individual exposed in a given incident, Part A allows the DNA to send a consolidated report if more than one person is affected. A similar form is available to report environmental incidents. The Secretariat encourages States, aid agencies, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and others, into report pesticide incidents. Cooperation in completing this form and identifying of severely hazardous pesticide formulations posing problems under conditions of use is greatly appreciated. For any questions or comments relating to the completion of this form, please contact the Secretariat at: Secretariat for the Rotterdam Convention, FAO, Plant Protection Service, Plant Production and Protection Division, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. Tel: (+39 06) 5705 3441, Fax: (+39 06) 5705 6347 E-mail: Secretariat for the Rotterdam Convention, UNEP Chemicals, 11-13, Chemin des AnÊmones, CH - 1219 Châtelaine, Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: (+41 22) 917 8296, Fax: (+41 22) 917 8082, E-mail: Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation Report Form - Human Health Incidents PART B - PESTICIDE INCIDENT REPORT FORM This form should be completed for each individual exposed in a given incident - Where an incident involves more than one formulation please complete Section I and question 13 for each.

I. Product identity: What formulation was used when the incident took place. 1.

Name of the formulation: ................................................................................................................................................................................


Type of formulation (check one of the following) Emulsifiable Conc. (EC) Wettable Powder (WP) Dustable powder (DP) Water Soluble Powder (SP) Ultra Low Volume (ULV) Tablet (TB) Granular (GR) other, please specify:......................................................................................................................


Trade name and name of producer, if available: ............................................................................................................................................


Name of the active ingredient(s) in the formulation: ......................................................................................................................................


Relative amount of each active ingredient in the formulation: ....................................................................................................................... (% concentration, g/l, etc.) Attach copy of the label(s), if available.


II. Description of the incident: How the formulation was used.



Date of incident: (M/DD/Year)..........................................................................................................................................................................


Location of incident:village/city:....................................................................................................................................................................... province/state/region:...................................................................................................................................................................................... country:............................................................................................................................................................................................................


Person exposed (identity should be checked and recorded before submission of the form) Sex: male female age: ............................................................................................................................. If age unknown: child (<14yrs) adolescent (14-19 yrs) adult (>19yrs)


Main activity at time of exposure (check one or more of the following): application in field mixing/loading veterinary therapy household application vector control application human therapy re-entry to treated field other, please specify: .....................................................................................................................

Living With Poison


Was protective clothing used during application? no yes If no, please explain why:............................................................................................................................................................................... If yes, briefly describe (check one or more of the following): gloves overalls eye glasses respirator other, please specify................................................... face mask boots/shoes long-sleeve shirt long pants


Information on how product was being used:

(a) (b) (c)

Location of exposure/incident (field, garden, greenhouse, house, etc.) ...................................................................................................... List the animals/crop(s)/stored products treated if relevant: ......................................................................................................................... Application method: (How product was used e.g. hand, bucket & brush, soil injection, spray (backpack, tractor mounted, etc), drip irrigation, aerial (helicopter, plane etc.)): ....................................................................................................................................................... Dose applied/concentration (or amount of pesticide applied)........................................................................................................................ Duration of the exposure period: hours ½ day day other (specify): ...........................................................................

(d) (e) 13.


14. 15. 16.

If more than one pesticide formulation was used at the same time, please respond to points i) to iv) below for each formulation. (see also Part I Product Identity) i) Was the pesticide in its original container? no yes ii) Was the label available? no yes If yes, was exposed individual able to read and understand label? no yes iii) Does the label include the reported use? no yes IIf no, describe how the use reported above differs from that recommended on the label: (use a separate page if necessary)............................................................................................................................................................... iv) Is the reported incident typical of how the formulation is generally used? no yes Climatic conditions under which the incident occurred (eg. temperature, relative humidity,...): ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Were other individuals affected in the same incident? no yes Include any other details that may be useful in describing the incident and the way in which the formulation was used, in particular how the use reported here reflects common or recognized use patterns for this formulation (additional pages may be attached).

III. Description of adverse effects: 17.

Individual's reaction (check one or more of the following): dizziness headache hand tremor convulsion excessive salivation nausea/vomiting

blurred vision staggering death

excessive sweating narrow pupils/miosis other, please specify: ................................................


Route of exposure (check main route or more than one if applicable) mouth skin eyes inhalation other, please specify:....................................................................................................


How soon after last use of the formulation were the adverse effects observed:...........................................................................................

IV. Management: 20.

Treatment given: Hospitalization:

No No

Yes Yes

Unknown Unknown


Include any other details/information regarding treatment including medical intervention/first aid/hospitalization/local practices etc., (additional pages may be attached):

V. Reporting/communication: 22.

Date of data collection/consultation: .............................................................................................................................................................


Name and address of investigator/data collector: ........................................................................................................................................


Category of investigator/data collector: medical



If non-medical, then specify type of person (applicator, formulator, vendor, extension worker, manager,etc.):............................................ 25.


Contact if further information if needed: Tel: ................................................................................................................................................ Fax: ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... E.mail: ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... Has this incident been reported elsewhere? No Yes If yes, where: ................................................................................................................................................................................................. Send the completed incident report form to the Designated National Authority. (Name and address of the DNA)

Living With Poison


Additional resources and contacts Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Plant Production and Protection Division, Plant Protection, Pesticide Management Unit / Organisation BĂŠninoise pour la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB), Benin Pesticide Action Network Africa Pesticide Action Network Germany, On-line information service for non-chemical pest management in the tropics (OISAT) Pesticide Action Network UK, Pesticide Action Network UK cotton website Pesticide Action North America, Pesticide information database Pesticide library, database of PAN UK (contains many of the studies referenced in this report) Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals in International Trade Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) US Environmental Protection Agency, Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings: covers about 1,500 pesticide products in an easy-to-use format. Toxicology, signs and symptoms of poisoning, and treatment major types of pesticides World Health Organisation , Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard


Living With Poison

Living With Poison

Pesticide Action Network Africa BP: 15938 Dakar-Fann Dakar Senegal t: (221) 825 49 14 f: (221) 825 14 43


02 BP 8033 Cotonou BĂŠnin t: 35 14 97 f: 36 07 57

Pesticide Action Network UK 56-64 Leonard Street London EC2A 4JX T: 020 7065 0905 F: 020 7065 0907 admin@pan-uk.og PAN UK works to eliminate the dangers of toxic pesticides, our exposure to them, and their presence in the environment where we live and work. Nationally and globally, we promote safer alternatives, the production of healthy food, and sustainable farming.

Living with poison  

Problems of endosulfan in West African cotton growing systems

Living with poison  

Problems of endosulfan in West African cotton growing systems