02:00 PM

Supreme Court rejects pesticide case

Decision stands to prohibit use of carbofuran in domestic food production

WASHINGTON, D.C. (05/31/2011) -

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition today to reconsider the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ban on domestic food tolerances for carbofuran, a deadly pesticide used in food production. FMC Corporation, the leading manufacturer of carbofuran, and a group of powerful agribusiness lobbyists including the National Corn Growers Association, have repeatedly challenged a 2009 rule from the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke all food tolerances. EPA has shown that dietary exposure to carbofuran is unsafe for humans. In 2006, EPA announced that all uses of carbofuran should be cancelled because of occupational and ecological risks to humans and wildlife.

The following is a statement from Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife:

“The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case allows EPA’s decision to stand.  The EPA decision confirmed what we’ve been saying for years: carbofuran is a deadly poison that has absolutely no place in our food or the environment. The Court’s action means that, in this case, the health and safety of the American people and our nation’s wildlife have trumped the profits of powerful corporations.

“EPA made the right decision in 2009 to revoke all food tolerances for carbofuran and should take further action to cancel the use of carbofuran altogether. There is absolutely no reason to continue using this substance in the U.S. or anywhere else.

“Carbofuran has killed millions of birds and other wildlife in the U.S. alone for decades. Preventing its use domestically was a critical step, but our job is not finished. Foreign countries still use carbofuran on food imported in the U.S., and in places like Africa, it’s even being used illegally to poison animals like African lions, which Defenders has petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list as an endangered species. As long as this dangerous pesticide stays in circulation, people and wildlife around the world will remain at risk. We hope this decision influences other nations still using carbofuran to reconsider its use in their country. We are committed to assisting our international conservation partners in putting an end to the use of carbofuran and other dangerous pesticides.”


In August 2006, EPA published its Interim Re-registration Eligibility Decision and concluded that no uses of carbofuran were eligible for re-registration because of ecological and occupational risks. In response, some uses were voluntarily withdrawn. EPA plans to proceed with cancelling remaining uses through its cancellation process.


On May 15, 2009, EPA issued a final rule revoking all domestic and imported food tolerances for carbofuran, and that rule went into effect at the end of 2009. FMC Corporation, the leading manufacturer of carbofuran, along with powerful lobbying groups for the food industry challenged these decisions in federal court and were successful in getting a federal court to allow some imports containing carbofuran to continue entering the country. FMC then appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate domestic food tolerances for carbofuran.


Read more about EPA’s cancellation process


John Motsinger, 202-772-0288