ONE OF THE WORLD'S
MOST TOXIC INSECTICIDES
After unprecedented public reaction, chemical manufacturer Cheminova decided to voluntarily cancel all uses of its insecticide ethyl parathion(trade names: Parathion, Folidol). The announcement came after a concertedcampaign led by American Bird Conservancy, in partnership with Defenders ofWildlife, Pesticide Action Network of North America and World Wildlife Fund,to pressure the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cheminova toend all U.S. uses of this highly toxic insecticide.
Ethyl parathion is generally considered to be one of the most toxicpesticides currently in use worldwide and has been documented as responsiblefor thousands of birds kills including ducks, geese, raptors, gulls, martinsand songbirds as well as domestic mammals and even humans where applicatorshave mishandled the treatment. Its toxicity prompted the EPA in 1991 torestrict ethyl parathion usage to nine crops in the U.S. (alfalfa, barley,corn, cotton, canola, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, and wheat) but even thismeasure was insufficient. Much of the spraying still occurred in the GreatPlains and Prairie Pothole regions of North and South Dakota and adjacentMinnesota, where 50% of North American waterfowl breeding takes place.
The campaign, centered around ABC's April 2000 'Action Advisory', resultedin over 1,000 letters of concern being sent to the EPA under its recentlyimplemented Public Comment Period, and prompted EPA to respond directly toconcerns voiced by ABC.
"This is a very important decision by Cheminova for wildlife," said KelleyTucker, Director of ABC's Pesticides and Birds Campaign. "The danger posedto birds made continued use of this pesticide simply untenable and we aredelighted that the EPA was able to constructively act with the manufacturerto make the only right choice and withdraw ethyl parathion from the market."
The withdrawal, effective immediately, will still permit use of the chemicalon eight of the nine crops until stocks are used up, because of the hazardsof storing and disposal of large volumes of the chemical. However no newchemical will be manufactured and all U.S. application must cease by October31 2003. The agreement also halts the use of ethyl parathion as a componentin other pesticides, effective December 31 2000.
"Again, it has been demonstrated that a unified campaign in the publicinterest can have a significant impact," said ABC President, George Fenwick."We would like to thank the US Fish and Wildlife Service and all those whoresponded to the ABC Action Advisory by sending in letters to the EPA,bringing about this landmark result."
Written by: American Bird Conservancy
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