Technical endosulfan and its related isomers

Chemical and non-chemical alternatives to endosulfan are available in many geographical situations both in developed and developing countries. Some of these alternatives are being applied in countries where endosulfan has been banned or is being phased-out. However, in some countries, it may be difficult and/or costly to replace endosulfan for specific crop-pest complexes. Some countries also prefer to use endosulfan in pollinator management, insecticide resistance management, integrated pest management systems and because it is effective against a broad range of pests. Some countries want to continue to use endosulfan to allow time for the phase-in of alternatives.

Note that following information is extracted from the risk management evaluation document (UNEP-POPS-POPRC.6-13-Add.1).

Alternatives to endosulfan include not only alternative substances that can be used without major changes in the process design, but also innovative changes such as agricultural processes or other practices that do not require the use of endosulfan or chemical substitutes. Possible alternatives are: (a) chemical alternatives; (b) semio-chemicals; (c) biological control systems; and (d) agro-ecological practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM), organic farming and other specific agricultural practices.

Generally it is important that the whole range of alternatives is considered when evaluating possible alternatives. In many cases the comparison is focused on chemical alternatives and neglects non-chemical alternatives.

Endosulfan is used mainly on cotton, tea, coffee, soybean, sunflower, vegetables, rice, pulses and fruit. From the information provided by parties and observers a wide range of technically feasible alternatives has been identified. The identified alternatives are listed in Annex I of the supporting document (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.6/INF/12) including the chemical, semio-chemical and biological alternatives, the corresponding crop-pest combination and a reference indicating which country or observer has provided the corresponding information. In total, information on almost 100 chemical alternatives (including plant extracts) and a considerable number of biological control measures and semio-chemicals and management and cultural practices have been identified for a very wide range of applications, geographical situations and level of development.

Chemical alternatives

According to Annex F information submitted by Parties and Observers a number of alternatives to endosulfan (including plant extracts) are available for specific crop-pest combinations (see Annex I, Table 10 of UNEP/POPS/POPRC.6/INF/12).


According to Annex F information several semio-chemicals (i.e., substances which carry a chemical message) can be used as an alternative to endosulfan. For further details see supporting document UNEP/POPS/POPRC.6/INF/12).

Biological control systems

According to Annex F information a wide range of biological control alternatives to endosulfan (i.e., reduction of pest populations by natural enemies) are available.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) SystemsIPM emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

According to established IPM principles (a) non-chemical alternatives must be preferred to chemical alternatives if they provide satisfactory pest control and (b) chemicals used shall be as target specific as possible and shall have the least side effects on human health, non-target organisms and the environment.21 However, it should be noted that IPM systems accept critically selected plant protection products that should be available to the grower despite certain negative aspects (especially for reasons of resistance management or earmarked for exceptionally difficult cases). These products should have a short persistence and are permitted only for precisely identified indications with clearly defined restrictions (IOBC, 2004). As a consequence, in IPM systems endosulfan as a chemical alternative should be considered only as a last resort if all non-chemical alternatives fail. Furthermore, between chemical alternatives those with a narrow spectrum (low side effects) and with a short persistence should be preferred. 

Organic farming

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on cultural practices such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests.

Organic farming excludes the use of synthetic pesticides. Information has been provided on organic farming in applications where endosulfan is usually used. 

Specific agricultural practices

‘Specific agricultural practices’ mean any cultural practices to support pest management. These include mainly practices that are also used in IPM and organic farming. However, they can generally be applied in any form of agriculture. Such practices include for example varietal selection, use of certified pest free plants, selection of the appropriate planting time, crop rotation, use of flowering plants like marigold and sunflower to attract beneficial insects, use of beneficial insects such as the parasitic wasp Trichogramma, use of botanical pesticides, use of trap crops and attractant traps, and collection of infested plant parts (e.g. coffee beans). Information on specific agricultural practices that are appropriate to replace the use of endosulfan has been provided by several parties and observers.

For further information, please refer to