EPA risk assessment shows aldicarb poses safety risk to infants

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

Bayer CropScience has agreed to phase out production of its insecticide-nematicide aldicarb in response to a new risk assessment conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency that shows it poses "unacceptable dietary risks."

EPA regulators determined it can pose a safety risk to infants and young children.

Bayer said it will discontinue aldicarb registration on citrus and potatoes this year. Aldicarb is sold under the brand name Temik.

An agreement with the EPA calls for Bayer to stop aldicarb production by Dec. 31, 2014. All remaining aldicarb uses will end no later than August 2018, according to an EPA statement dated Aug. 17.

Farmers can use existing stocks of Temik on citrus and potatoes through the end of 2011, according to the agreement.

Jack Boyne, head of communications for Bayer CropScience, characterized the loss of the product as "a real blow to potato and citrus growers who really depend on this product."

In the Northwest, the product is used on potatoes in rotation with other nematode controls, according to fieldmen.

"It is a great Colorado potato beetle material with good nematicide activity, and it has some plant growth regulator activity that other insecticides don't seem to have," said Bruce McLane, a fieldman with the Wilbur-Ellis Co. out of Boardman, Ore.

"It is a loss of a great tool and will be certainly be missed," he said.

Boyne said that when used according to its label, Temik has a clean record.

"There has been nothing to my knowledge of any illness resulting from that," he said.

Bayer in its statement said: "This new assessment does not mean that aldicarb poses a food safety concern."

"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.

Bayer CropScience CEO Bill Buckner in the statement added: "We recognize the significant impact this decision will have on growers and the food industry, and will do everything possible to address their concerns during this transition."

In addition to citrus and potatoes, aldicarb, a carbamate, is registered for use on a variety of crops, including dry beans, sugar beets, cotton, peanuts and tobacco.

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