A unit of Bayer AG is phasing out production of a pesticide used on numerous U.S. crops such as cotton, peanuts and potatoes now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that the 40-year-old product doesn’t meet food safety rules.
In a release Tuesday, the EPA said new toxicity data show that the pesticide aldicarb – marketed under the trade name Temik — no longer meets the agency’s safety standards. Aldicarb, which isn’t for residential use and can be applied only by trained pesticide applicators, was first registered in the U.S. in 1970 for use on cotton. It has since been used to help farmers keep bugs away from peanuts, potatoes, citrus fruits, soybeans, tobacco, sugarcane and sugar beets. About 4.8 million pounds of the active ingredient are aldicarb is used on about 4.9 million acres every year, according to a 2005 EPA estimate.
But after conducting a new risk assessment, the EPA said Tuesday it now believes aldicarb poses unacceptable dietary risks, especially to young children.
In a separate statement, Bayer CropScience said it plans to stop marketing aldicarb in the U.S. and other markets around the world by 2014. The company will start by ending aldicarb use on citrus fruits and potatoes, and it will take steps to protect shallow drinking water wells and other groundwater resources from contamination.
During the phase-out period, aldicarb will continue to be registered for use on cotton, dry beans, peanuts, soybeans, sugar beets, and sweet potatoes. But its use on these crops will be phased out over the next few years as part of the company’s plan to discontinue aldicarb by 2014.
Bayer CropScience said it doesn’t completely agree with EPA’s decision but it is cooperating with the agency.
“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,” it said in its statement. “This new assessment does not mean that aldicarb poses an actual risk.”
Additionally, Bayer CropScience President and Chief Executive Bill Buckner said in the 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.