andrew schneider investigates

February 11, 2008

Ban on bird-killing pesticide upheld

Filed under: Food Safety,Pesticides,Public health legislation — Andrew Schneider @ 21:05

A pesticide manufacturer and members of Congress are pressuring EPA to reverse an 2006 decision to cancel the registration of all uses of the highly toxic pesticide carbofuran, which is sold under the name “Furadan,” says the American Bird Conservancy.

Last week, an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel reviewed that decision that the pesticide poses an unreasonable risk to the environment, particularly birds. Carbofuran is one of the most heavily used insecticides in the world, but its extreme toxicity to farm workers and wildlife has made it very dangerous to use, says the Conservancy.

“Those who support keeping carbofuran on the market are stating their clear indifference to conserving wildlife and to exposing workers to toxins,” said Dr. George Fenwick, president of the Conservancy, in reacting to the panel’s recommendations.

In addition to killing birds when used legally, carbofuran is often illegally used in poison baits intended to kill wildlife in agricultural areas and grazing lands. This abuse has resulted in the deaths of raptors including bald and golden eagles.

The Conservancy says it and other conservation and worker protection organizations campaigned for many years to have carbofuran removed from the market.

Carbofuran first came under fire in the 1980s after an EPA Special Review estimated that more than a million birds were killed each year by one form of the pesticide. According to scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are “no known conditions under which carbofuran can be used without killing migratory birds. Many of these die-off incidents followed applications of carbofuran that were made with extraordinary care.”

Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, which set higher standards for pesticide registration and residues in food, and gave EPA a deadline of 10 years to re-evaluate the most dangerous pesticides.

EPA’s announcement to cancel the registration of carbofuran happened on the precise day of the 10-year deadline, the organization said,

Carbofuran is used on alfalfa, corn, cotton, cotton, potatoes, rice, artichokes, chili peppers, cucumbers and spinach.


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