EPA Bans Deadly Pesticide Responsible for Millions of Bird Deaths

For Immediate Release

American Bird Conservancy
Contact: 

Steve Holmer, 202-234-7181, ext. 216, sholmer@abcbirds.org

EPA Bans Deadly Pesticide Responsible for Millions of Bird Deaths

WASHINGTON - The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its final decision to
revoke all food tolerances for the highly toxic pesticide carbofuran, which
is sold under the name "Furadan" by FMC Corporation. The
agency’s announcement confirms a proposed action first announced in
July 2008.  FMC Corp. will have the opportunity to challenge the decision
within 90 days with a petition to stay the rule.  When the rule becomes
final, EPA will proceed with the cancellation of registration for all uses of
the pesticide. 

Carbofuran
causes neurological damage in humans, and one of the most deadly pesticides
to birds left on the market. It is responsible for the deaths of millions of
wild birds since its introduction in 1967, including Bald and Golden Eagles,
Red-tailed Hawks, and migratory songbirds,” said Dr. George Fenwick,
President of American Bird Conservancy. “This EPA decision marks a huge
victory for wildlife and the environment.”

This rule becomes effective December 31, 2009 to allow for
commodities in storage to be used.  Most uses of carbofuran on food crops
were voluntarily cancelled in March 2009, effective immediately, so that most
uses of the pesticide have been cancelled for the 2009 growing season. 
Today’s announcement is available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/30118530d0b774d7852575b30059aa8c?OpenDocument.

In its 2005 ecological risk assessment on carbofuran, EPA
stated that all legal uses of the pesticide were likely to kill wild birds.
If a flock of mallards were to feed in a carbofuran treated alfalfa field,
EPA predicted that 92% of the birds in the flock would quickly die. EPA
analysis has also confirmed that carbofuran is a threat to human health
through contaminated food, drinking water, and occupational exposure.

Following objections to the proposed ban by FMC
Corporation, a government Scientific Advisory Panel reviewed the decision and
agreed with EPA in 2008 that the pesticide poses an unreasonable risk to the
environment, particularly birds, and that there was no evidence to recommend
reversing EPA’s decision to cancel carbofuran.

“Despite overwhelming scientific evidence of
carbofuran's extreme toxicity and the availability of safer alternatives, FMC
Corporation continued to do everything it could to keep this chemical on the
market,” said Dr. Michael Fry,
ABC’s Director of Conservation Advocacy. “We congratulate EPA for
standing up for science and the public interest in the face of an industry
pressure campaign.”

Carbofuran first came under fire in the 1980s after an EPA
Special Review estimated that over a million birds were killed each year by
the granular formulation. Many of these die-off incidents followed
applications of carbofuran that were made with extraordinary care. The
granular formation was cancelled in 1994, but the liquid form has remained on
the market.

“The revocation
of all food tolerances
has international implications, as imports of
rice, coffee, bananas and sugarcane were previously allowed to contain
residues of carbofuran,” said Dr. Fry.  “After this revocation,
countries wishing to export these foods to the US must stop using carbofuran
on these four major crops.” 

Rice and coffee are particularly important, as many US
birds over wintering in Latin America use coffee and rice fields as winter
habitats.  American Bird Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense
Council petitioned EPA to cancel all import tolerances for pesticide residues
on food, and this decision complies with the ABC/NRDC petition. 

Incidents of bird poisonings by carbofuran are documented
in the Avian Incident Monitoring System (www.abcbirds.org/aims) operated by
American Bird Conservancy in cooperation with the EPA and state and federal
wildlife agencies. In addition to killing birds when used legally, carbofuran
is often illegally used in poison baits intended to kill wildlife in
agricultural areas and grazing lands. This abuse has resulted in the deaths
of raptors including Bald and Golden Eagles in violation of the Bald and
Golden Eagle Protection Act.

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