Friday, August 04, 2006

New Pesticide Regulations

On Tuesday I linked to a call for public petitions to ban carbofuran, a pesticide known to harm birds. Yesterday the EPA announced that its new recommendations would include not re-registering carbofuran, as well as tighter restrictions on other pesticides.

The study, which focused on more than 230 chemicals known as organophosphates and carbamates, could lead to the elimination of 3,200 uses and the modification in use of 1,200 others, like chlorpyrifos, diazinon and methyl parathion, which have been long been controversial for their role in causing illnesses.

Environmental groups applauded the recommendation to cancel most uses of carbofuran, a common insecticide used on corn, rice, tobacco and other crops that has had particularly deadly effects on birds.

“Removal of this pesticide will save tens of thousands of birds, including bald eagles, hawks and migratory songbirds,” said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy. “Carbofuran’s toxicity to wildlife made it one of America’s most harmful licensed products.”

According to the EPA press release, what is being banned is not "most uses" but "all uses" of carbofuran.
EPA is proposing to cancel all uses of the pesticide carbofuran and to revoke the associated tolerances (legal residue limits on food). The agency announced today its conclusion that there are considerable risks associated with carbofuran in food and drinking water, risks to pesticide applicators and risks to birds that are exposed in treated fields....

EPA is proposing to immediately cancel the majority of carbofuran uses. A four-year phase-out is being proposed for six, minor agricultural uses, which will provide time to find effective alternatives.
In the current political climate, it is good to see steps forward like this one.