A spokesman for Dow AgroSciences said this week the pesticide manufacturer is holding to its position and will not voluntarily adopt government-proposed application restrictions for chlorpyrifos.
Garry Hamlin of Dow AgroSciences said the ball now is in the Environmental Protection Agencyâs court.
âI think we have to hear from EPA as to how do they see this situation,â Hamlin said.
The application restrictions stem from a 2001 lawsuit filed by the Washington Toxics Coalition. The coalition argued that the EPA did not adequately confer with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the impacts of pesticides on endangered fish before registering products for use.
NMFS in 2008 issued a biological opinion that three organophosphate pesticides â the first group of 37 pesticides due for review â threaten the survival of fish.
NMFS found that even at low levels, organophosphates harm salmon by interfering with their sense of smell and increasing a salmonâs susceptibility to disease.
But pesticide manufacturers say there is no evidence showing fish are being harmed by the pesticides.
EPA last summer asked Dow AgroSciences, Makhteshim-Agan North America and Cheminova to voluntarily adopt no-spray buffers for chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion.
In a subsequent letter April 29, EPA informed the pesticide manufacturers that it âwill pursue administrative proceduresâ to compel them to implement the buffers.
Hamlin said Dow AgroSciences has not heard from the EPA since Dow, Makhteshim-Agan of North America and Cheminova sent a letter on May 7 informing the agency they are ânot now prepared to make any of the registration revisionsâ called for by the agency.
Dale Kemery, a spokesman for EPA, verified May 18 that the agency has not responded to the May 7 letter.
âThe agency is considering its options under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act before proceeding,â Kemery wrote in an e-mail to the Capital Press.
Growers and applicators can use existing supply of organophosphates under current labels, said Heather Hansen, executive director of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests.
âThe label is the law,â Hansen said. âFollow the label on the package you have.â
Environmentalists want the EPA to move quickly to restrict use of the pesticides.
âWhile weâre encouraged that EPA is taking steps to finally implement that (biological) opinion, we would urge them to take the most expedient and immediate step they could, because it is overdue,â said Steve Mashuda, an attorney for Earthjustice, which represented the Washington Toxics Coalition in the case.
-- Mitch Lies