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Endosulfan in Brief  Pesticide Action Network (PAN) & International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN)
September 2010

Endosulfan in Brief
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) & International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN)
September 2010

The organochlorine insecticide endosulfan is entering the final stages of consideration for listing
under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants for global elimination. PAN and
IPEN support the elimination of endosulfan.

1. Endosulfan is a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP)
Endosulfan satisfies POPs criteria of persistence, bioaccumulation, long‐range transport, and
toxicity. In 2009 the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) concluded that “... endosulfan is likely, as a
result of its longrange
environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and
environmental effects, such that global action is warranted”. The POPRC stated that “Human fatality
and chronic poisoning cases, and severe environmental degradation have been reported” and that
endosulfan is “highly toxic for humans and most animal groups, showing both acute and chronic
effects at relatively low exposure levels”.

2. Number of countries that have banned endosulfan = 691
This includes at least 40 developing and transition countries that eliminated use of endosulfan on
crops such as cotton and coffee. For example alternatives to endosulfan are used for pest control on
cotton and vegetables in West Africa; on vegetables, rice, and tea in Sri Lanka; and on coffee, soy,
flowers, and other crops in Latin America. Recently Canada, Jamaica, Morocco, and USA all banned
endosulfan for various reasons including the inability to use it safely without risk to the applicator
and the environment, including the Arctic.

3. Endosulfan and sustainable agriculture
Endosulfan is toxic to bees and many beneficial insects; hence it is not compatible with true
Integrated Pest Management or sustainable agricultural production.

4. Alternatives to endosulfan are available and technically feasible
Alternatives exist for a wide range of crop‐pest complexes and for each specific crop‐pest complex
an appropriate combination of chemical, biological and cultural control action may be taken. A
considerable number of biological and agroecological control measures, semio‐chemicals, and
almost 100 chemical alternatives (including plant extracts) have been identified for a very wide
range of applications and geographical situations, including for rice, tea, cotton, soy, coffee, wheat,
and sugar in regions where these crops are widely grown. According to the results of a screening
risk assessment, alternatives are generally considered safer than endosulfan. Non‐chemical
alternatives generally have no or low risk.

5. Alternatives to endosulfan are economically feasible
There are economically acceptable methods of managing all pests without endosulfan.
Implementing substitutes has been found to result in either very small increases in costs, no

1 Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cambodia, Cap‐Vert,
Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia,
Germany, Greece, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia,
Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands,
New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal,
Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tchad, United Arab
Emirates, United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela

additional costs, projected reduction in costs, or actual increases in farmers’ incomes. A World Bank
study of 1.36 million acres in India found that replacement of endosulfan with alternative practices
significantly reduced costs and increased farmers’ incomes. Any additional costs in implementing
substitutes for endosulfan need to be considered against the substantial costs to human health and
environment from its ongoing use. Health costs in just one state of India (Kerala) resulting from
exposures to endosulfan have been substantial and continue to rise, even after endosulfan use has

6. Multi-lateral action on endosulfan and other POPs is consistent with international law
WTO law applies to trade‐related actions taken by individual WTO members; it does not govern
multilateral environmental agreements. WTO case law and other multilateral agreements support
the principle that MEAs embody the cooperative efforts of the international community and thus
dispel fears of disguised protectionism. The Endosulfan Draft Risk Management Evaluation
prepared by the POPRC has identified that “a harmonized ban on production and use would
contribute to balanced agricultural markets”

7. Endosulfan should be listed in the Stockholm Convention
POPRC 6 should recommend to the Conference of the Parties the listing of endosulfan in Annex A for
elimination of all production and uses without any specific exemptions.

Case studies:

1. Cotton – India
Global organic cotton production is booming, with India providing half of the world’s organic cotton
output. There endosulfan has been replaced by managing pests with varietal selection, crop
rotation, intercropping with maize and pigeon peas as trap crops, use of flowering plants like
marigold and sunflower to attract beneficial insects, use of the parasitic wasp Trichogramma, and
use of botanical pesticides. Organic cotton output in India increased by 292% in 2007‐8.

2. Coffee Mexico
In 2005, Mexico had 123,000 producers of organic coffee, representing about 19% of the total land
area grown in coffee, with this increasing to 25% in 2008. They do not use endosulfan. Coffee berry
borer is the main pest. Main alternatives to endosulfan are the fungus Beauvaria bassiana; parasitic
wasps Cephalonomia sephanoderis, Prorops nasuta and Phymastichus coffea; and neem.

3. Vegetables – Cuba
In Cuba, the parasitic wasp Trichogramma is used on approximately 777,000 hectares against
lepidopteran pests of tomato, peppers, curcubits and tobacco as a substitute for endosulfan. Other
parasitoids Telenomus spp, Euplectrus plathyhypenae, Tetrastichus howardii Ollif and Tetrastichus
spp are used variously for corn, garlic, onion, peppers, tomatoes, potato, and curcubits as substitutes
for endosulfan.

4. No increased costs Sri Lanka
In 1995 and 1998 Sri Lanka banned endosulfan, monocrotophos and methamidophos because they
were common causes of severe poisoning. There followed a large reduction in fatal poisoning but no
reduction in productivity and no sudden changes in cost of production.2

2 Manuweera G, Eddleston M, Egodage S, Buckley NA. 2008. Do targeted bans of insecticides to prevent deaths from self‐poisoning result in reduced agricultural output? Environ Health Perspect 116(4):492‐5

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