Pesticide ban from EPA follows millions of bird deaths

Evelyn Cronce
El Defensor Chieftain Reporter

The Environmental Protection Agency this month announced their decision to cancel the registration of most uses of the pesticide carbofuran after a prolonged review.

This means that the chemical would no longer be able to be registered for most uses.

"The first step in attempting to remove the product from the shelves is for the EPA to ask the manufacturer for a voluntary recall," said Caroline Kennedy, from Defenders of Wildlife. "I believe there is a hearing scheduled for October with the company."

The pesticide is sold by the FMC Corporation under the name Furadan. The corporation says the pesticide's threats are being exaggerated.

According to the American Bird Conservancy, the chemical has been responsible for the deaths of millions of wild birds since its introduction in 1967.

"American Bird Conservancy applauds EPA for removing one of the deadliest bird killing pesticides, carbofuran, from the market," said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy in a press release.

The cancellation is immediately effective for the main uses of carbofuran, for alfalfa, corn, cotton, potatoes, and rice. Its use will be phased out over four years for other minor uses including artichokes, chili peppers in the southwest, cucumbers, spinach for seed, sunflowers and pine seedlings. The cancellation also applies to use on most major imported agricultural products. This means that countries wishing to export agricultural produce to the United States will not be able to use carbofuran on those crops.

In its 2005 ecological risk assessment for carbofuran, EPA stated that there were no legal uses of carbofuran that did not kill wild birds. If a flock of mallards were to feed in a carbofuran treated alfalfa field, EPA predicted that 92 percent of the birds in the flock would quickly die," said Dr. Michael Fry, director or the conservancy's pesticides and birds campaign.

"Millions of bird deaths have been averted," said Rodger Schlickeisen, the president of Defenders of Wildlife. "The toll these dangerous chemicals have taken on wildlife cannot be overstated, to say nothing of the threat they pose to human health. The EPA made the right call today, letting science chart the best course forward for the health of our nation's citizens and natural heritage."

"According to EPA's own analysis, carbofuran was a threat to human health through contaminated food, drinking water, and occupational exposure. In light of the health risks to people, including high risks to children and to workers, and given the availability of less toxic alternatives, EPA did the right thing," said Dr. Jennifer Sass, Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a recent publication, who also campaigned for the cancellation of carbofuran.

For more information contact Gavin Shire, American Bird Conservancy, (202) 234-7181 extension 207, or

Michael Fry, American Bird Conservancy, (202) 234-7181 extension 205, or Caroline Kennedy, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 682-9400.

Informant: binstock


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