US EPA bans insecticide carbofuran from food use
May. 18, 2009
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the use of the insecticide carbofuran on food crops.
The insecticide, sold under the brand name Furadan, has been under EPA review for years. Its granular form was banned in the mid-1990s because it was blamed for killing millions of migratory birds.
International efforts to remove it from sale began in 2006. It was transferred into New Zealand's hazardous substances regulations in that year, but a spokeswoman for the Environmental Risk Management Authority said yesterday there was no record of it being included in any crop pesticides still on sale.
It did not show up in New Zealand's total diet survey, which looks for pesticide residues, in 2004, said a Food Safety Authority spokesman.
The chemical has also been known as Carbamic acid, Carbofuran, Carbofurane, Chinufur, Crisfuran, Furacarb, Kenofuran, Pillarfuran and Yaltox.
In the US, Furadan's manufacturer, FMC of Philadelphia, fought government efforts to ban the systemic insecticide and in March the company voluntarily scaled back its uses in hopes of heading off broader restrictions.
FMC said on its website that Furadan "remains a useful product, vital to the sustainability of agriculture "and that its proper use "does not create a risk to human health, wildlife or the environment," Associated Press reported.
The EPA said it was revoking all allowable tolerance levels for carbofuran on food crops, including imported foods, and that it will ban the chemical's use altogether, including on nonfood crops, because of risks to farm workers and to the environment.
The chemical still poses "an unacceptable dietary risk, especially to children, from consuming a combination of food and water with carbofuran residues," said the EPA.
In a fact sheet, EPA said carbofuran "can overstimulate the nervous system, causing nausea, dizziness, confusion and, at very high exposures, respiratory paralysis and death."
The chemical gained some notoriety recently when it was reported that herdsmen in East Africa were using it to poison lions. Officials at FMC denounced the practice and said they were taking "aggressive action" to stop shipments to Uganda and Tanzania and were beginning a buy-back programme in Kenya.
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