In mid-June the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave permission to Louisiana rice growers to apply 1,500 pounds of granular carbofuran to rice fields to combat rice weevil. The granular formulation of this highly toxic chemical has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of birds, including Bald Eagles, and was phased out in the U.S. in 1991. On July 5, 2002, the EPA will decide whether or not to allow growers to apply more carbofuran to another 7,500 acres of rice in Louisiana.
Wildlife conservation and environmental groups across the country have put out a call for letters to EPA, protesting this "emergency use" of carbofuran. After pressure from American Bird Conservancy (ABC), Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club and other groups, EPA permitted the growers to spread carbofuran only on 2,500 acres of the 10,000 acres originally requested. On Friday, July 5, EPA will close a five-day comment period, and decide whether to allow growers to spread the remaining 7,500 acres with carbofuran.
One granule of carbofuran can kill a bird. Of all pesticides currently in use, carbofuran is one of the most highly toxic to birds. Over fifty species of birds, including Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Eastern Bluebird, Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Kestrel, Northern Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal have been documented as having died from carbofuran poisoning. EPA’s own estimates conclude that up to two million birds were killed each year by carbofuran before it was banned. No other substance listed under the EPA’s Ecological Incident Investigation System has killed more birds.
This exemption for carbofuran is also troubling because EPA waived the normal 15 day comment period. A five day comment period was announced after environmental groups complained that the decision was made without consulting the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The timing of this emergency request is also cause for concern because carbofuran will be up for review and re-registration by EPA at the end of this year.
PAN North America urges all readers to write or email EPA on or before July 5, 2002, indicating that use of carbofuran is unacceptable, that granting requests to apply banned pesticides without public comment or with only five days of comment is also unacceptable, and asking that the emergency exemption be reversed and no new exemptions be granted.
Please reference EPA Docket # OPP-2002-0124--Opposition to Section 18 Granular Carbofuran Use in Louisiana in the subject line of your email or letter.
Send comments to:
Sources: Press release from American Bird Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife
Contact: Dr. Patti Bright, Director, Pesticides and Birds Campaign, American Bird Conservancy; phone (540) 253-5780; email firstname.lastname@example.org; Brad DeVries, Defenders of Wildlife; phone (202) 772-0237; email email@example.com; U.S. EPA, Dan Rosenblatt, Registration Division(7505C), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; phone (703) 308-9366; fax (703) 308-5433; email firstname.lastname@example.org.