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Daily News Blog

25
Jan

EPA: Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb on Oranges

(Beyond Pesticides. January 25, 2021) First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges.

>>Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb!

No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The effects don’t stop there—aldicarb is also notorious for contaminating groundwater.

EPA has approved aldicarb (an insecticide) in combination with streptomycin (an antibiotic used to fight human disease) to control citrus greening, a disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid. As Nathan Donley, PhD of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops.”

Aldicarb is a highly toxic, systemic carbamate insecticide that is a fast-acting cholinesterase inhibitor that permanently binds to the active site of an essential enzyme for normal nerve impulse transmission, acetylcholinesterase (AChE), deactivating the enzyme. In doing this, the chemical causes damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, interrupting neurological activity. Aldicarb is subject to regulation under the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty established to reduce the trade of the most globally hazardous chemicals, with over 100 countries—excluding the U.S.—banning its use. Both EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify the chemical in the highest toxicity category. However, the U.S. is one of only a few countries around the world that does not regulate aldicarb via the treaty, but merely strictly restricts its uses.

Aldicarb may persist in groundwater for decades due to its long half-life between 200 to 2000 days and ingestion of aldicarb-contaminated groundwater by residents adversely affects immune system function. Furthermore, aldicarb is a systemic pesticide that plant roots and leaves readily uptake, leading to toxic chemical residues in pollen and sap-like droplets (guttation) easily accessible to vulnerable pollinators, like bees.

In 2010, Bayer CropScience agreed with EPA to voluntarily cancel the production of Temik 15G, the sole aldicarb pesticide on the market, ending distribution by 2017. The chemical poses an unnecessary dietary risk to infants and children, causing neurological harm at very low doses. However, less than a decade after its discontinuation, a new aldicarb product by AgLogic—AgLogic 15G—surfaced, with limited use on a small subset of U.S. crops.

Presently, AgLogic is the only manufacturer of aldicarb pesticide products, and approving it for use on citrus fruit highlights faults within the pesticide regulatory system. Evidence demonstrates that past use of Temik 15G on citrus fruit crops exclusively posed the highest risk to children and infants, ultimately leading to its 2010 cancellation. Furthermore, the Florida Department of Agriculture denied AgLogic’s request to gain “Special Local Needs” approval under Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for use on Florida citrus in 2017 and 2018. AgLogic was unable to demonstrate that aldicarb is safer at controlling pests than other alternatives. This new AgLogic registration does not “require the submission of comparative efficacy studies,” which accelerated regular Section 3 registration on citrus.

Organic growers know that soil biology and soil health is important to protection from diseases like citrus greening. The use of aldicarb and streptomycin, on the other hand, destroy healthy soil biota.

The approval of AgLogic15G for use on citrus crops (e.g., grapefruit, lemon, orange, lime trees) allows an additional 400,000 acres of crop treatments in areas where pesticides already pose a threat to human, animal, and environmental health. Karen McCormack, a retired employee of the EPA’s pesticide office, states her concern over aldicarb approval: “It’s deeply disappointing to watch the current EPA renege on its agreement to ban this highly toxic and persistent pesticide. After receiving numerous complaints of aldicarb leaching into groundwater and contaminating drinking water supplies in Florida and elsewhere, my colleagues worked tirelessly to reach a voluntary agreement with the aldicarb manufacturer to stop producing this hazardous pesticide. Now it appears all this work may have been in vain.”

The approval of the aldicarb use demonstrates the danger of regulating pesticides through negotiated voluntary cancellations, which do not produce a record on which EPA or the public can depend for future decisions.

It is essential that when EPA weighs the risks and benefits of extending pesticide uses, the agency acknowledges previous harms associated with those chemicals. Harms ultimately associated with contaminant exposure should end through policy reform and the adoption of practices that eliminate toxic pesticide use. With far too many diseases in the U.S. associated with pesticide exposure, prohibiting the use of pesticides with known toxic effects is crucial for safeguarding public health.

>>Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb!

Letter to EPA

It is crucial that the Biden administration add to its list of urgent actions the reversal of EPA’s approval of the highly toxic insecticide aldicarb for use on citrus.

First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges.

No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The effects don’t stop there—aldicarb is also notorious for contaminating groundwater.

EPA has approved aldicarb (an insecticide) in combination with streptomycin (an antibiotic used to fight tuberculosis) to control citrus greening, a disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid. As Nathan Donley, PhD of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops.”

Aldicarb is a highly toxic, systemic carbamate insecticide banned by over 100 countries under the Rotterdam Convention. Both EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify the chemical in the highest toxicity category.

Aldicarb may persist in groundwater for decades due to its long half-life between 200 to 2000 days, and ingestion of aldicarb-contaminated groundwater by residents adversely affects immune system function. Furthermore, aldicarb is a systemic pesticide that plant roots and leaves readily uptake, leading to toxic chemical residues in pollen and guttation droplets, poisoning pollinators like bees.

In 2010, Bayer CropScience agreed with EPA to voluntarily cancel the production of Temik 15G, the sole aldicarb pesticide on the market, ending distribution by 2017. However, less than a decade after its discontinuation, a new aldicarb product by AgLogic—AgLogic 15G—surfaced, with limited use on a small subset of U.S. crops.

Evidence demonstrates that past use of Temik 15G on citrus fruit crops exclusively posed the highest risk to children and infants, ultimately leading to its 2010 cancellation. Furthermore, the Florida Department of Agriculture denied AgLogic’s request to gain “Special Local Needs” approval under Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for use on Florida citrus in 2017 and 2018 because AgLogic was unable to demonstrate that aldicarb is safer at controlling pests than other alternatives.

Organic growers know that soil biology and soil health is important to protection from diseases like citrus greening. The use of aldicarb and streptomycin, on the other hand, destroy healthy soil biota.

The approval of the aldicarb use demonstrates the danger of regulating pesticides through negotiated voluntary cancellations, which do not produce a record on which EPA or the public can depend for future decisions.

Please reverse EPA’s approval of the highly toxic insecticide aldicarb for use on citrus.

Share

2 Responses to “EPA: Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb on Oranges”

  1. 1
    Linda Isordia Says:

    Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb!
    Is dangerous that is why is prohibited in most countries.

  2. 2
    Furnace Repair Says:

    Very interesting article-especially relevant with the current oil pipeline and climate change situations.
    Thanks for posting.

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