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Issue 26
, 2010
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The End of Endosulfan

Source:, Date: , 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to end all uses of the insecticide endosulfan in the United States. Endosulfan, which is used on vegetables, fruits, and cotton, can pose unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farm workers and wildlife and can persist in the environment. Endosulfan has been used in agriculture around the world to control insect pests including whiteflys, aphids, leafhoppers, Colorado potato beetles and cabbage worms. It has also seen use in wood preservation, home gardening, and tse-tse fly control, though it is not currently used for public health or residential purposes. India is the world's largest consumer of endosulfan.


Endosulfan is an organochlorine compound that is used as an insecticide. This colorless solid has emerged as a highly controversial agrichemical due to its acute toxicity, potential for bioaccumulation, and role as an endocrine disruptor. It was first introduced in 1954. By 2000 it had started being banned from use.

It is already banned in more than 62 countries, including the European Union and several Asian and West African nations, it is still used extensively in many other countries including India, Brazil, and Australia. It is produced by several firms such as Bayer CropScience, Makhteshim Agan, and Government-of-India—owned Hindustan Insecticides Limited among others.

Because of its potential threats to the environment, a global ban on the use and manufacture of endosulfan is being considered under the Stockholm Convention.

In 2002 EPA enacted a partial ban/reduced usage on Endosulfan, New data generated in response to the EPA's 2002 decision have shown that risks faced by workers are greater than previously known. EPA also finds that there are risks above the agency’s earlier level of concern to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to birds and mammals that consume aquatic prey which have ingested endosulfan.

Makhteshim Agan of North America, the major manufacturer of endosulfan, is in discussions with EPA to voluntarily terminate all endosulfan uses.

EPA is currently working out the details of the decision that will eliminate all endosulfan uses, while incorporating consideration of the needs for growers to timely move to lower risk pest control practices.