FMC Corp., a diversified chemical company serving agricultural, industrial and consumer markets, recently announced plans to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to deny an administrative hearing on the agency's action to revoke all U.S. food tolerances for carbofuran insecticide. The company and a group of U.S. crop commodity associations will take legal action in U.S. federal court.
"EPA's unprecedented attempt to deny any review of its science deprives the registrant and the growers who use carbofuran the right to prove that the product is safe, and represents a bold abuse of power in contradiction of the agency's earlier commitments to transparency and good science," says Michael Morelli, director of global regulatory affairs, FMC Agricultural Products Group. "Additionally, EPA's attempt to link carbofuran food residues to symptoms of potential poisoning in children is particularly unwarranted."
In May 2009 the EPA issued a rule that revoked the residue limits of the pesticide carbofuran. The agency is now moving forward with implementation of the rule.
"The evidence is clear that carbofuran does not meet today’s rigorous food-safety standards," says Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "EPA has carefully evaluated the scientific issues and has provided more than 500 days of public comment on this decision. It is now important to move forward with the needed public health protections, especially for children."
According to the EPA rule, carbofuran should not be applied to any food crops after Dec. 31, 2009. Use of carbofuran after this date could result in adulterated food products, which would be subject to enforcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
FMC asserts that carbofuran meets all safety standards. According to the company, the EPA's only concern is with drinking water and it’s based on an incorrect assumption that 100% of crops are treated with carbofuran, when in most cases only 1% or less is treated. "Without exaggerated assumptions, carbofuran residues are well within safe levels," says Morelli.
FMC contends that current law clearly mandates that growers and registrants be provided a right to a timely and neutral hearing when there are obvious and genuine factual issues between EPA and those parties over safety of a pesticide.
FMC also claims that the EPA's decision to revoke all food tolerance is confusing to growers and others in the agricultural community as it circumvents the normal re-registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA has not taken action to cancel carbofuran registrations, which continue under FIFRA.
"EPA remains closed-minded about mitigation measures, even though FMC proposals have clearly demonstrated how such mitigation is possible and indeed allow product use to meet the EPA safety standard even under the Agency's worse case assumptions," says Morelli.
In other news, the company recently named Pierre Brondeau president and CEO succeeding William G. Walter, effective Jan. 1, 2010.
Brondeau retired from Dow Chemical Co. in September where he served as president and CEO of Dow Advanced Materials. Prior to joining Dow, he was president and COO of Rohm and Haas Co., which was acquired by Dow Chemical earlier this year.
Brondeau holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from INSA in Toulouse, France. He also holds a master's degree in Food Sciences from the University of Montpellier, France.