Pesticide Carbofuran Ban

December 30, 2009 06:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
The Environmetal Protection Agency (EPA) has revoked all tolerances for residues of the pesticide carbofuran—effectively banning the insecticide from use in any crop after December 31, 2009.
Carbofuran may be more familiar to users as the branded product Furadan.  Although not as widely used as it was prior to the introduction of Bt technology, carbofuran is still utilized by farmers as a corn rootworm rescue treatment, especially in refuge acres. In potatoes, it controls a suite of pests that include Colorado potato beetle, European corn borer, potato flea beetle and potato leafhopper.
Sunflowers growers also depend on the product. Larry Kleingartner, National Sunflower Association, says growers in the areas of western Kansas and eastern Colorado will be particularly impacted if carbofuran is no longer available for use. "This area has consistent stem weevil infestations and Furadan is the product of choice to control this insect,” says Kleingartner. "Well timed foliar applications can work, but are a bit more tricky. We have been working on genetic resistance for some time, but nothing is ready for release.”
The National Sunflower Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Potato Council and FMC Corporation continue to challenge the EPA's actions through legal action, but earlier objections and hearing requests have been denied.
FMC maintains that carbofuran meets all safety standards and that current law mandates growers and registrants be provided a right to timely and neutral hearing.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued a statement earlier this fall encouraging farmers to understand the impact and the ability to market crops treated with these products. Unless some action is taken soon, the EPA's actions prohibit crops that contain even trace residues of carbofuran after December 31, 2009, unless it can be proven the crop was treated before that date. EPA is in the process of canceling the remaining carbofuran registrations that permit its use. The fact that EPA revoked tolerances for a pesticide before revoking its registration is considered unique. Carbofuran was first registered in the United States in 1969.

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