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Bayer Agrees to Phase Out Harmful Pesticide

German pesticide producer Bayer AG has agreed to phase out production of the chemical aldicarb and discontinue its sale in the United States. This decision follows the release of a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which found that the chemical does not meet U.S. food safety standards.

The agency decided that the chemical poses unnecessary dietary risks to humans, especially young children. The pesticide is currently used on crops such as peanuts, potatoes, citrus, cotton, coffee, and soybeans.

pesticides-potatoes-featured.jpg“Aldicarb is registered for use as a systemic insecticide and nematicide on agricultural crops, and is formulated and marketed solely as a granular pesticide under the trade name Temik,” the EPA said in a statement.

Bayer will discontinue registrations for Temik on certain crops like citrus and potatoes immediately, and completely discontinue its distribution to U.S. and other international markets by 2014.  Citrus and potato farmers are allowed to use the supplies they have already purchased until the end of 2011.

The company will discontinue production of aldicarb for other crops by the end of 2014 and will end distribution by the end of 2016.  The company plans to eliminate use of the product altogether by 2018.  The labeling of Temik will be changed immediately in order to decrease its use on crops like cotton, soybeans, coffee, and peanuts. 

Additionally, the EPA plans to revoke the tolerance, or legal pesticide residue allowed in food, that is associated with these commodities.

Bayer CropScience President and Chief Executive Bill Buckner said in a statement that he recognizes “the significant impact” the EPA decision will have on farmers and the food industry. He added that the company is prepared to help address concerns during the transition period.

The EPA has expressed concern over the chemical finding its way into shallow water wells, and plans to pass new measures protecting these wells all over the country.  The agency is paying particular attention to protecting vulnerable areas in parts of the southeastern United States. Bayer has agreed to do its part ensuring these wells and other areas avoid contamination. 

“Although the company does not fully agree with this new risk assessment approach, Bayer CropScience respects the oversight authority of the EPA and is cooperating with them,” the company said in a statement. “This new assessment does not mean that aldicarb poses an actual risk.”

The EPA says side effects of aldicarb can cause sweating, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. It said that those side effects very rarely occur at levels typically found in food.

“The U.S. has a safe and abundant food supply, and children and others should continue to eat a variety of foods, as recommended by the federal government and nutritional experts,” the EPA said in a statement.

In September, EPA plans to publish a Federal Register notice announcing receipt of the registrant’s request for voluntary cancellation of aldicarb use on citrus and potato. Public comment will be invited for 30 days. The agency plans to grant the requested cancellations after the close of the comment period.

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