The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to ban the use of the insecticide endosulfan, which is used on vegetables, fruits, and cotton as well as on ornamental shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants. The federal agency says the chemical can pose neurological and reproductive risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment.
The European Union and other countries already ban the use of endosulfan, a chemical cousin of DDT, reports a CNN blog. About 1.4 million pounds of endosulfan are used annually in the United States, according to the EPA.
Prompting the EPA’s move to ban the chemical is new data that indicates workers face greater risks than previously known. The new data, together with scientific peer review, have improved EPA’s assessment of the ecological and worker risks from endosulfan.
Endosulfan is used on a very small percentage of the U.S. food supply and does not present a risk to human health from dietary exposure, according to the EPA.
Makhteshim Agan of North America, the manufacturer of endosulfan, is working with EPA to voluntarily terminate all endosulfan uses.
“From a scientific standpoint, MANA continues to disagree fundamentally with EPA’s conclusions regarding endosulfan,” said Scott Rawlins, director of global governmental and industry relations for the company, in a statement, reports CNN.
“However, given the fact that the endosulfan market is quite small and the cost of developing and submitting additional data high, we have decided to voluntarily negotiate an agreement with EPA that provides growers with an adequate time frame to find alternatives for the damaging insect pests currently controlled by endosulfan,” Rawlins added.
Endosulfan, an organochlorine insecticide was first registered in the 1950s, and has no residential uses.
Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental group, told CNN that the EPA’s decision could influence other countries still using the chemical, especially India, where the insecticide is used by cashew growers.