EPA to ban pesticide carbofuran from food in U.S.
In an unexpected move, the U.S. EPA announced Thursday that it will act to ban the pesticide carbofuran from food in the United States before next year’s growing season. The EPA said the pesticide can cause “nausea, dizziness, confusion, and — at very high exposures — respiratory paralysis and death”; the pesticide has also killed millions of birds and other wildlife. Carbofuran isn’t widely used in the United States, but farmers in developing countries use it on bananas, coffee, corn, rice, sugar cane, and other crops, so the ban could have a significant impact worldwide. “It’s one of the most widely used pesticides in the world,” said Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy. Using language we didn’t even think was in the EPA’s vocabulary, the agency’s James Gulliford said, “While there is little exposure today [to the pesticide], we don’t think there’s a need, a reason for any exposure.” The EPA had indicated earlier this year that the ban would only apply to domestically grown food, but the agency changed course Thursday, saying the ban would also apply to imports.