Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pesticide Alert

The American Bird Conservancy is asking birders to petition the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the pesticide carbofuran from agricultural use. This pesticide is known to kill birds even in small quantities, and effective alternatives exist for most of its uses. To voice your support for the ban, do the following:

We ask you to email carbofuran@epa.gov, CCing gshire@abcbirds.org telling the EPA to ban carbofuran now because of its danger to birds, other wildlife, and people. Your email can be brief.... What is important is that you tell them in your own words that you do not want carbofuran to be used in the United States. Alternatives exist that are equally effective and not deadly to birds. There is no reason to keep carbofuran registered.

Please send your email before 5pm Wednesday August 2, 2006!

Alternatively you can fax your comments to 202-564-0512.
See Birderblog.com for a fuller explanation of this issue.

See also ABC's factsheet on carbofuran.

The NY Times reports that several unions of federal scientists are up in arms over carbofuran and related pesticides because of their dangers to people. The most disturbing part of the Times story is that the agency has been ignoring data in favor of industry lobbying:

Despite the agency’s insistence that pesticide regulations follow scientific guidelines, several agency scientists said industry determined how chemicals were regulated.

“It’s how the game is played,” said an E.P.A. specialist involved in the pesticide program who spoke on the condition of anonymity because, he said, critics within the agency often lose choice assignments.

“You go to a meeting, and word comes down that this is an important chemical, this is one we’ve got to save,” he said. “It’s all informal, of course. But it suggests that industry interests are governing the decisions of E.P.A. management. The pesticide program functions as a governmental cover for what is effectively a private industry licensing program.”

Another senior E.P.A. scientist who also spoke on condition of anonymity said the agency often ignored independent scientific studies that contradicted the industry-subsidized study that supported many regulations on pesticides.

She cited a North Carolina researcher who found that chlorpyrifos might have a more damaging effect on developing brains than other studies. “What we heard back from headquarters was, ‘No, he’s wrong,’ ” the scientist said.

“Chemicals like these can be harmful to children in ways we don’t understand yet,’’ the scientist said. “If there is disagreement, doesn’t that cry out for further research?”