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Pesticide News Story: EPA Denies Request to Revoke Tolerances for 13 Pesticides Used in Foreign Countries

For Release: August 10, 2011

On August 10, 2011, EPA published a notice of its denial of a July 23, 2009, petition from the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) requesting that the agency revoke over three dozen tolerances for 13 pesticide active ingredients for which there is no corresponding use registered in the U.S. ABC argued that EPA should revoke the tolerances, using its authority under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to be in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and Executive Order 13186. The executive order directs any federal agency engaging in certain actions to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fish and Wildlife Service that promotes conservation of migratory birds. EPA denied the petition primarily because the FFDCA, as a food safety statute, does not provide the legal authority to address the protection of migratory or endangered birds. The FFDCA only gives the EPA the authority to set tolerances for the purpose of ensuring the safety food in the U.S.

The 13 active ingredients included in the petition are cadusafos, cyproconazole, diazinon, dithianon, diquat, dimethoate, fenamiphos, mevinphos, methomyl, naled, phorate, terbufos, and dichlorvos (DDVP). The tolerances cover commodities grown in Mexico and Central America that are often imported to the U.S., such as coffee, bananas, other fruits, and vegetables.

ABC suggested that the use of these pesticides may harm migratory birds that travel to and feed in fields where the crops are grown. ABC further suggested that because the commodities covered by these tolerances are often imported to the U.S., the existence of the tolerances encourages the use of these pesticides on crops grown in Central America. ABC did not document that these pesticides have caused harm to migratory birds or that the pesticides are used when the migratory birds are present.

The petition, comments received during the public comment period, and EPA’s response are available in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0629 at www.regulations.gov.

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