Endosulfan Canceled After Research Finds Hazards to Humans and Wildlife

The EPA has moved to ban the toxic pesticide eudosulfan. Research has found the insecticide to be harmful to both wildlife and humans. The American Bird Conservancy hails the EPA for its actions because of the toxicity to birds.

| July 6, 2010

  • Mother duck and ducklings
    The EPA recently banned the pesticide endosulfan, which research shows is toxic to humans and wildlife. In use since the 1950s, endosulfan poses reproductive and neurological risks to farm workers, who can be exposed through inhalation and skin contact, and wildlife that eats endosulfan-exposed insects. In one release of endosulfan in 1995, about 40,000 ducks were exposed and killed.

  • Mother duck and ducklings

On June 10, 2010, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) hailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to end all U.S. uses of the insecticide endosulfan, (trade name: Thiodan prior to 2002 and later called Thionex) which has been found to pose reproductive and neurological risks to birds, other wildlife and humans. The manufacturer of endosulfan, Makteshim Agan of North America, is now in discussions with EPA planning the voluntary cancellation of all uses of the pesticide.

The EPA cited new data gathered since 2002 showing endosulfan poses high risks to farm workers, who can be exposed through inhalation and skin contact. Birds and aquatic and terrestrial wildlife are also at risk when consuming insects that have been exposed to endosulfan. The pesticide has already been banned in 60 countries. Worldwide outcry to ban endosulfan arose from the deaths of 135 people in Kerala, India, following use of the pesticide in cashew orchards.

“We have alerted EPA over a period of many years about the impacts of endosulfan on birds, and we are thrilled that, through this decision, EPA has validated those concerns. Wildlife and humans are better off because of this EPA decision,” said Moira McKernan, Director of ABC’s Pesticides and Birds Program.

Endosulfan was first registered for use in the 1950s and is the last of the organochlorine pesticide class to be used in the United States. Other organochlorine pesticides, such as DDT, dieldrin, and chlordane were banned in the 1970s and 1980s. Endosulfan has been used on cotton, vegetables, fruits, ornamental shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants in the U.S. The pesticide is also an endocrine disruptor, meaning, it disrupts hormones and affects reproductive success and embryonic development. It also accumulates in the tissues of organisms and persists for a long time in the environment. There are a few records in ABC’s Avian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS) on endosulfan, however one record is very significant. Following an environmental release of endosulfan, approximately 40,000 ducks were exposed and killed in 1995. This demonstrates endosulfan’s acute toxicity to birds.

Several U.S. organizations led efforts to ban endosulfan, including NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and PANNA (Pesticide Action Network, North America), both members of the National Pesticide Reform Coalition (NPRC). The NPRC was formed in 2002 by ABC and other nonprofit groups who recognized an increasing need for coordination in addressing issues arising from the EPA’s pesticide registration and re-registration processes.

Since its inception, the NPRC has proven an effective means of fighting specific pesticide registrations that are deemed hazardous to people, animals, or the environment. The Coalition now comprises 20 organizations, ranging from bird and other wildlife groups, to human health groups, to general conservation and environmental groups.
Dave Hackenberg_3
7/7/2010 6:34:30 AM

Driving the organic band wagon is most populist way to gain a halo for EU which holds only 8% of the world’s agricultural land yet garners ambitious plans for its chemical and pesticide trade (EU attributes to world’s 60% of chemical and pesticide trade)! EU is hunting for new markets for its surplus stock of pesticides – keen to be dumped at ‘patented’ premium in markets like Brazil India, China! For EU it makes perfect sense of getting rid of as many generic pesticides which are made available at lesser costs by these developing agronomies. If it was not the truth, EU would have banned other patented pesticides and not concentrated on funding activists to malign endosulfan hurling false canards about ‘lobbying’ by countries who have no voice at such forums where EU flexes its muscle and might. Most recently a letter has been in making tremendous ripples in the bureaucratic circles across Brazil, India, Argentia and China – exposing EU’s funding 53 Crores to Centre for Science & Environment, a New Delhi based NGO to design a campaign for moulding and educating illiterate villagers in Kerala towards ‘persistent organic pollutants’ which led to the Kerala's staged eposide on Endosulfan! Understandably, funding was made through EU’s New Delhi Mission which enjoys indemnity! It requires no explanation of why a Mission would employ a campaign on 'persistent pollutants' with a private NGO rather than the official of Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests.

Dave Hackenberg_3
7/7/2010 6:26:41 AM

Recent action of EPA was in acceptance of Makhteshim Agan North America (MANA) decision of voluntary phase out of Endosulfan citing high data cost, compared to market size. Endosulfan ‘issue’ is adding a new chapter in the WTO's history as a non tariff trade barrier employed by EU through its hegemony at Stockholm and Rotterdam Convention under the UNEP (EU funds 85% of which). All of us are aware that Endosulfan was invented in Germany about 55 years ago, it was manufactured in city of Hamburg and as we blog here, it continues to be sprayed on tomatoes in Spain, on hazelnuts in Italy! Not a single report or any damage has been heard from Germany, Spain or Italy. One thought does cross my mind of ‘politics of economics’. EU, if pushes for ban on Endosulfan, once banned the high volume market of this generic and low priced pesticide will open markets for the profits generating imidachloprid (banned in Germany and France for killing honey bees) and other EU-patented systemic pesticides. Not to mention that these toxic fruits and vegetables will also cost more to end users, who will be forced to bear the costs of crop protection that the farmers add up to keep the crop! Most of these EU promoted pesticides are harmful to pollinator bees and are not even registered by many agricultural economies. Dave

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