May 12, 2009
EPA Tightens Restrictions on Carbofuran

EPA has issued a final rule revoking all tolerances for carbofuran (Furadan) in food, effective at the end of this year. The May 11 action follows earlier EPA-imposed limitations on the use of this insecticide and nematicide.

EPA has concluded that dietary, worker and ecological risks are unacceptable for all uses of carbofuran,” according to an EPA statement. “All products containing carbofuran generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment and do not meet safety standards, and therefore are ineligible for re-registration.”

Carbofuran is an N-methyl carbamate insecticide and nematicide, manufactured by FMC Corp.

In March, all federally registered uses of carbofuran were canceled except for four food crop uses (field corn, potatoes, pumpkins and sunflowers) and two non-food crop uses (pine seedlings and spinach grown for seed). Use on artichokes will be canceled after a two-year phase-out period.

While EPA cited dietary exposure of infants and children as of particular concern, it also said that “carbofuran is used on only a small percentage of the U.S. food supply, and most food is not expected to contain carbofuran residues. The U.S. has a safe and abundant food supply, and children and others should continue to eat a variety of foods, as recommended by the federal government and nutritional experts.”

A key issue has been the involvement of carbofuran in wildlife poisoning, both accidental and intentional, worldwide.

The product has been used in baits to kill wildlife from starlings to coyotes, but has resulted in the poisoning of predatory birds such as eagles as well. Even legal uses also have resulted in deaths of ducks and other birds that feed in treated crop fields, according to the American Bird Conservancy.

“We condemn the use of our products by anyone as a means to kill any predatory wildlife,” FMC stated on its Web site. “FMC regularly communicates with its distributors and customers about the latest information about its products, their intended uses and the consequences of misuse. FMC believes the proper use of Furadan does not pose a risk to human health, wildlife or the environment, and the company will continue to promote its responsible use.

“Since its inception in 1967, Furadan has become one of the most widely used pest control insecticides in the world. Because of its versatility and effectiveness, Furadan is used in more than 80 countries by both large commercial farmers and small-plot growers.”
Carbofuran is used as both a plant and foliar insecticide to control such pests as corn rootworms, alfalfa weevil, European corn borer and aphids.
– Dick Lehnert

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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