FMC to fight EPA effort to ban pesticide

25 July 2008 20:55  [Source: ICIS news]

Fight starts over pesticide banWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--FMC Corporation said on Friday it will oppose a new effort by federal environmental regulators to ban US applications of carbofuran, saying that the pesticide does not pose a threat to human health in normal use.


FMC spokesman Jim Fitzwater said it was the company’s “intent to continue to defend this product”.


“We strongly believe that carbofuran residue on food does no pose a threat to human health,” he said.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued on Thursday a proposed rule that would revoke the agency’s existing tolerance criteria for carbofuran on foods grown in or imported to the US, saying it has “identified risks that do not meet our rigorous food safety standards".


Separately, the agency said it is proceeding with its effort launched in 2006 to cancel carbofuran as a registered pesticide allowed for limited use in US agriculture.


In seeking to cancel all uses of the pesticide, EPA said that “although carbofuran uses have benefits, none provides sufficient benefits … to outweigh the substantial combined occupational and ecological risks”.


The agency said, “EPA concluded that carbofuran products pose an unreasonable risk to man and the environment which outweighs the benefits of continued use, and therefore all uses must be cancelled.”


Fitzwater said that FMC also is fighting that action and has recently filed suit in US District Court in Washington, DC, to contest the EPA’s cancellation effort.


He said that EPA’s action on Thursday seeking to revoke food tolerances for carbofuran would have the same effect as cancelling the product’s registration.


“This is a totally new tactic that EPA is taking in trying to revoke the tolerances,” Fitzwater said. “We’re not aware that they have used this tactic against any other pesticide.”


Fitzwater also noted that as part of the information gathering under way in the agency’s procedural effort to cancel carbofuran’s registration, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) submitted a benefits analysis arguing that the pesticide should remain in use for some crops.


The EPA’s proposal to revoke food tolerances for carbofuran is subject to a 60-day comment period.


Fitzwater said FMC would file a comment in the matter and would continue to press its lawsuit challenging the agency’s effort to cancel carbofuran’s registration.


FMC is the sole US manufacturer of carbofuran, which is used on a variety of crops such as bananas, coffee, alfalfa, rice, soybeans and others. It is widely used globally.


If EPA were to revoke food tolerances for carbofuran, that action would effectively bar US imports of foreign foods treated with the pesticide.


Shares of FMC on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) were off by 2.4% to $65.26 (€41.77) in trading at midday on Friday and were down from a recent high point of around $72/share on Monday.


($1 = €0.64)


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By: Joe Kamalick
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