PANNA: Action Alert: Pesticide Threatens Birds


Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)

Action Alert: Pesticide Threatens Birds

May 21, 1999

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced April 30, 1999, that it would not grant full registration to American Cyanamid for the cotton pesticide chlorfenapyr (brand names Pirate and Alert). The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) leads the opposition to registration of this pesticide which has high reproductive toxicity to birds and other wildlife and a half-life of one or more years in soil. Chlorfenapyr has been characterized by EPA as “one of the most reproductively toxic pesticides to avian species that Environmental Fate and Effects Division has evaluated.”

Although full registration of chlorfenapyr has not been approved, EPA is considering the possibility of granting state-by-state emergency exemptions but under “very severe use restrictions.” The agency has approved such exemptions over the past four years in several states. American Cyanamid however, objects to the limited conditions of emergency exemptions and is pressing EPA to reverse its position. Some members of Congress primarily from cotton growing states support Cyanamid’s bid for full registration.

Because of this ABC is again calling for those who oppose registration of chlorfenapyr to send letters to EPA asking that they move to protect birds and other wildlife by denying all registrations of chlorfenapyr.

Even limited registration of a chemical by EPA has the potential to influence other nations’ acceptance and use. Many countries lack the resources and infrastructure to develop their own risk assessments, and therefore look to U.S. EPA for guidance.

Chlorfenapyr use on cotton or other products grown in the Western Hemisphere could have implications for bird species that breed in the U.S. and Canada but winter in Central or South America–as well as for other birds and wildlife in countries where it might be used. EPA needs to send a strong message to the industry that the risks of chlorfenapyr to the environment and to avian species worldwide are unacceptable.

EPA’s decision not to grant full registration comes after a widespread response to the action advisory sent out by ABC through PANUPS and numerous bird related networks in the United States and Canada. (See PANUPS, February 8, 1999.) Approximately 200 opposing responses were received in EPA’s public docket. ABC and Defenders of Wildlife also worked to insure that EPA initiated formal consultation regarding the registration with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service–a process to which Cyanamid is opposed.

American Cyanamid has proposed use of chlorfenapyr as an insecticide and miticide on cotton. Cyanamid claims that it is one of the most effective controls available for beet armyworm in chemically intensive cotton agriculture. Applications for use on citrus and vegetables and for termites and ants are also pending. Chlorfenapyr belongs to a new class of chemical called “pyrrole”–never before registered by EPA.

Letters of continuing opposition to registration can be sent to:

* EPA Administrator Carol Browner:, and

* Senator John Breaux (Democrat, Louisiana) who supports registration:

Full text of the chlorfenapyr risk benefit assessment can be found at:

Additional information can be found at the American Bird Conservancy Web site:

Source/contact: Kelley R. Tucker, Pesticides and Birds Campaign, American Bird Conservancy, 1250 24th St., NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20037, phone: 202/778.9773 fax: 202/778.9778 e-mail:



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