Nature and Environment

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Carbofuran: A Toxic Case

8/27/2008 1:10:28 PM

Tags: Environmental Protection Agency, FMC Corporation, carbofuran, insecticide, American Bird Conservancy

On July 31, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal to ban residues from carbofuran, a toxic pesticide used in the production of many different crops, from our food and drinking water. The EPA found the chemical doesn’t meet safety standards of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and can cause serious problems to humans and the environment, especially to birds. The decision will likely require the complete discontinuation of the pesticide's use in agriculture.

However, the chemical’s manufacturer, FMC Corporation, stands in their way.

FMC Corporation is a manufacturer of insecticides, herbicides, harvest aids and fungicides (a full list of their products can be found here). Although the EPA originally announced its plan for cancellation of the product in 2006, the FMC has decided to take them to court in order to continue production of the insecticide.

According to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), this is the first time in twenty years that a company has tried to fight a cancellation of a pesticide. And because of the chemical’s side effects, the only way they will win is if they can prove that their product meets the FFDCA safety regulations…which is highly unlikely. Not only does carbofuran cause dietary risks to humans, it is responsible for killing millions of birds, including bald and golden eagles, since it was first produced in 1967. An intentional misuse of the chemical killed 2,200 migratory birds in 2007, but according to the EPA, all uses of carbofuran (including legal ones) will kill wild birds. A documented list of bird poisoning incidents compiled by the ABC can be found here. Wildlife groups, such as the ABC and Defenders of Wildlife, along with many others, support the cancellation.

Please comment below on any experience you may have with the insecticide, or better yet, send your comments to FMC Corporation.

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Zack Casey
8/29/2008 1:05:14 AM
Here's what I really don't get. Why is it that we always have to fight to ban the use of a harmful chemical years after it's introduction, once it's had a chance to poison us and kill wildlife. Why can't these things be tested BEFORE hand? We are supposed to test drugs for safety concerns in multiple trials and over multiple years, why not the same thing for substances that are used in mass quantities, easily spread into our water supplies and food, and in general, having a chance to really cause millions of dollars in damages and negatively affecting wildlife? Does this system not make sense to anyone else???

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