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PANUPS: No Carbofuran for Cotton

                         P A N U P S
                   Pesticide Action Network 
                        North America
                       Updates Service
                   EMAIL: panna@panna.org

July 18, 1997

Cotton Farmers Denied Carbofuran Exemption

Due to concerns about children's health, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) turned down requests 
from six states that wanted to use flowable (liquid) 
carbofuran on cotton. Arkansas, California, Louisiana, 
Mississippi and Texas requested Section 18 emergency 
exemptions to control cotton aphids with flowable carbofuran, 
which is not registered for use on cotton. Under Section 18 
of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 
EPA can grant temporary emergency exemptions to allow 
unregistered uses of pesticides. 

Carbofuran is a broad spectrum carbamate pesticide that kills 
insects, nematodes and mites. Liquid formulations are 
classified by EPA as "Restricted Use Pesticides" (RUP) due to 
acute oral and inhalation toxicity to humans. Granular forms 
are banned for most uses due to widespread bird kills.

Prior to the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), the agency 
had approved similar exemption requests in 1995 and 1996. 
According to the agency, analyses required by FQPA showed 
that flowable carbofuran presents an acute dietary risk to 
infants and children through drinking water contamination. 
Elizabeth Haeberer, an official with EPA's Registration 
Division, stated that to protect children, carbofuran levels 
in drinking water could be no higher than five parts per 
billion (ppb) -- she added that monitoring data have found 
residue levels as high as 40 ppb. 

FMC Corporation, the sole U.S. manufacturer and distributor 
or carbofuran, has complained that FQPA has "handcuffed" EPA. 
According to Pesticide and Toxic Chemical News, FMC is 
reviewing EPA's analysis to ensure the agency treated the 
emergency use request in a manner "consistent" with other 
proposed uses. FMC is hoping the agency will grant a new 
registration allowing treatment of cotton foliage with liquid 
formulations of carbofuran, which would mean growers could 
use the pesticide without having to seek emergency 

EPA's Haeberer said that water exposure is driving the 
decision, however, and that "the way things stand, they (FMC) 
won't get that use." She indicated that it is highly unlikely 
EPA will change its position unless FMC presents "a whole 
bunch of monitoring data that shows there is no problem."

Meredith Johnson, an official with EPA's Office of Pesticide 
Programs (OPP), stated that OPP's recent reviews suggest 
carbofuran poses an unacceptable risk generally, not just in 
cotton. This could mean that some existing approved uses of 
the pesticide would be cancelled. Carbofuran is registered 
for use on alfalfa, corn, rice, soybeans, potatoes, small 
grains and some minor crops such as bananas. EPA estimates 
that approximately 1.2 million to 2.5 million lbs. of liquid 
carbofuran are used each year in the U.S. An additional 
252,500 lbs. of granular carbofuran are used on rice. Had EPA 
granted this exemption for cotton, Louisiana and Mississippi 
would have used up to 500,000 lbs. of the pesticide on up to 
one million acres of cotton. 

The Cotton Council, which represents growers, believes that 
cotton farmers will face "serious challenges" this year. A 
representative of the Council said that alternative aphid 
controls are more expensive and less effective. He estimated 
that one million to five million acres could be damaged by 
the aphids, but acknowledged that it could be much less.

Sources: Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, July 9, July 2 and 
May 7, 1997; Carbofuran, Extension Toxicology Network, 
September 1993; Meredith Johnson, personal communication, 
July 16, 1997.

Contact: PANNA

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