The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to end all uses of the insecticide endosulfan in the United States. An EPA news release said that endosulfan, which is used on vegetables, fruits and cotton, “can pose unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment.”

Makhteshim Agan of North America, the manufacturer of endosulfan, opposed EPA’s findings, but announced that it would voluntarily participate in a plan to withdraw endosulfan over time.

“From a scientific standpoint, MANA continues to disagree fundamentally with EPA's conclusions regarding endosulfan and believes that key uses are still eligible for re-registration,” said Scott Rawlins, MANA director of global governmental and industry relations. “The agency has made a number of overly conservative and unrealistic assumptions about how endosulfan is used that do not reflect the best available science.

“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 said.

Endosulfan was first registered in the 1950's. MANA is the exclusive marketer of two formulations of endosulfan under the brand names Thionex 3EC and Thionex 50W.

Details of the final timetable for Thionex will be announced to producer organizations and agricultural product retailers in the coming weeks.

EPA stated said that farmworkers “can be exposed to endosulfan through inhalation and contact with the skin. 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.”

EPA says the phase out “is based on new data and scientific peer review, which have improved EPA’s assessment of the ecological and worker risks from endosulfan.”