Category Archives: Organophosphates

FMC respond to report on lion killing with carbofuran

In a recent statement the FMC responded to the rebroadcasting of the CBS 60 Minutes show on the poisoning of lions.

Note my comments in bold italics against their claims reproduced here

In The News

· We expanded our contact with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa to improve reporting of suspected poisonings.July 26, 2009 FMC Response to 60 Minutes Rebroadcast of Story on Kenyan Lion Poisonings

Apart from the Masai Wildlands Trust we are not aware of any other NGO’s that FMC are talking to in Kenya and FMC have not responded to any of the incident reports sent and Linda Froelich has stopped responding  to our emails

On Sunday, July 26, CBS News 60 Minutes rebroadcasted a story on the human-wildlife conflict in Kenya that reports Furadan®, an FMC insecticide, has become the preferred product that many cattle herders use to poison lions that kill their livestock. As we stated when the story first aired in March, FMC strongly condemns the misuse of its products that are clearly intended to be used for crop protection. We are very concerned about allegations that the product has been used illegally to kill wildlife. The company has taken several actions to address the situation including:

· Stopped all sales of Furadan to Kenya immediately after learning of an incident in May 2008.

· Initiated a Furadan buy-back program in Kenya in March 2009 to remove any remaining product from the market. Our distributor and conservation groups, such as the Maasailand Preservation Trust, report that Furadan is no longer stocked in Agrovet stores.

carbofuran in Kenyan Agrovets

This is not true. Carbofuran remains available throughout Kenyan Agrovets.

Juanco carbofuran Furadan pesticide wildlife poisoning

The distributors website (Juanco) does not mention that Furadan is toxic to human beings and must be handled with great care.   We believe that the impression given through the label is that Furadan is a safe product.  Juanco now markets itself as safe through the tag line promise ‘Juanco going biological’.

· FMC’s distributor discontinued Furadan sales into Tanzania and Uganda in April 2009. Packages of Furadan in Tanzanian agrovet stores show that carbofuran is still coming into Tanzania from imports via Kenya

· FMC has offered to subsidize Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) lab analysis of samples of animals suspected to have been poisoned with Furadan. The KEPHIS lab uses a more expensive but substantially more sensitive analytical test than other Kenyan labs.

We have seen nothing in writing to confirm this and the KEPHIS laboratories seem oblivious of this. They have refused to test our samples 

· FMC has requested all information about suspected wildlife poisonings from the Kenyan Wildlife Service under their official procedures.

The official procedure is not to report to FMC but to the Pest Control Products Board in Kenya (PCPB) who have not met with KWS or conservationists to discuss concerns. Neither the PCPB nor FMC have responded to any of our submitted reports. On phone the PCPB CEO insisted that the data collected did not constitute facts that they could go on – dates, locations, photographs of incidents, samples collected, confessions. 

In April, FMC sent a second team to Kenya (first team was sent in March 2008) to get a more comprehensive understanding of intentional misuse of chemicals in the longstanding human-wildlife conflict. The team met with several NGOs as well as government officials from both the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The NGOs made a firm commitment to report all suspected cases of lion poisonings involving Furadan directly to the government and to FMC. To help encourage accurate reporting, we sent the NGOs specific information on what to look for if witnessing a poisoning event or if poisoned animals are found as well as our offer to subsidize lab analyses through KEPHIS. We continue to strongly encourage NGOs to include substantiated evidence to support their reports to government and FMC on suspected Furadan intoxications.

FMC is a global company dedicated to delivering innovative products that improve the lives of people around the world. We take tremendous pride, not only in our products, but in our stewardship programs. We will continue to work with the Kenyan government, agricultural industry and conservation groups to try to prevent the misuse of Furadan and any other pesticides used to kill wildlife.

From where we sit FMC make gross exaggerations about their stewardship programs in third world countries. FMC are aware of the scale of misuse of Furadan in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and other countries. FMC do not monitor whether Furadan is being used safely by farmers or test for contamination of groundwater or test for residues on crops produced and sold in local markets. Whatever information FMC has on the impact of Furadan on workers, consumers, users and the environment are not shared with any of the conservation organizations concerned about this product.

Furadan use is not restricted in East Africa. Users of Furadan can buy this deadly product over the counter for a very small fee throughout East Africa. Users are not registered, trained nor warned about the dangers of misuse, spills or symptoms of poisoning. It is sold in Agrovets (kiosks) by non professionals and in locatiosn that do not have effective poison control mechanisms, poison treatment centers, toxicology centers, residue monitoring of products, safe poison disposal mechanisms, pesticide monitoring or enforcement systems in place. FMC knows that Agrovets in East Africa actively offer Furadan to buyers as “Lion kille”. They have done nothing to raise local awareness about the dangers and penalties of misuse. Despite the evidence sent to FMC and the PCPB, no Kenyan has been charged and found guilty of Furadan misuse.

We invite FMC to reconsider the impact of their product on users, consumers and wildlife in Africa and withdraw the product completely and dispose of it safely while discontinuing the production of so dangerous a pesticide. The Kenyan pest control board have responded negatively to reports sent to them and declared that they will not investigate reports made by WildlifeDirect. The FMC could help by insisting that these investigations be carried out.

Secondary poisoning by carbofuran?


Secondary poisoning refers to when a consumer gets intoxicated by eating another organism that has the poison in its system.

Secondary poisoning is known in a number of other chemical pesticides for instance organophosphates. In carbofuran, a carbamate, it is argued whether or not secondary poisoning actually does occur.

It is a known fact that carbofuran is a sleek killer especially in birds. It is also true that organisms with bigger body mass die after a longer time compared to animals with smaller body mass which die faster. I have witnessed small seed-eating birds succumb to carbofuran within 5 minutes while bigger Storks may take up to half an hour or more. In simple explanation,the chemical must get incorporated in the consumer’s tissues and if this consumer dies and is predated upon by another which in the process also gets intoxicated, then secondary poisoning is said to have occured.

There have been reported cases of possible secondary poisoning in Kenya: lions getting intoxicated after feeding on poisoned hippopotamus, vultures after feeding on poisoned carnivore. Today I talked to a senior scientist in a prominent organization who pointed out that after working it out with the chief vet of their wildlife conservation organization, the Lethal Dose (LD) required to kill a hippo is actually much lower compared to the hippo’s body mass. So, some some granules of carbofuran sprinkled on the grass will intoxicate the hippo (and any other herbivore) and even though the lethal dose required to kill the hippo is not attained, the dose may well be enough to kill a wild dog. Nonetheless, my reasoning in the lions getting intoxicated by the alleged carbofuran poisoning of the hippos is that the hippo may have taken much more of the carbofuran and while this may have paralysed the hippos nervous system, not all of it was ‘used’. Therefore, the ‘excess’ carbofuran that circulated in the hippo while still alive and was not ‘used’ in paralysing the nervous system of the hippo got to its tissues and the amount being equal or more than the lion’s lethal dose (the lion’s whose mass may just be about a quarter of the hippos) got the lions got intoxicated.

If that is so and if it is man who had eaten the hippo(as he has been known to in some places), then may be he would have probably succumbed to the poisoning much faster than the lions. Still on man, as earlier said, I have seen Storks take over 30 minutes before dying after eating Carbofuran-laced snails. Man eats these guys regularly. Since the similar organophosphates’ poisoning results to chronic/persistent effects in wildlife and people, there might be chronic effects due to carbamates as well and cumulatively, these could be catastrophic. I cannot avoid worrying that in the long run, most of our wildlife and man are actually already intoxicated and continue to be by carbofuran.

Just a thought for the day!

King George Bald Eagle

The Kenyan-based raptor conservationist Simon Thomsett once put it in a statement that seemed humorously ridiculous, “I literally saw vultures drop from the skies”. The vultures in refernce here had eaten furadan-laced carcass. Reading the King George Bald Eagle’s incidence, I get the feeling that he may have literally dropped from the skies and sadly succumbed to injuries sustained due to disorientation by the organophosphate poisoning.

Pesticide Situation

Hi. I recently got the opportunity to get an introductory overview of the situation of pesticides in Kenya using the case example of Nairobi City. Communicating to a specialist and key figure at Consumer Watch Kenya, a leading organization in Kenya that fights for better quality and safety of products and services for Kenyan consumers, I got to confirm our fear as conservationists that all is amiss as far as pesticide use, distribution and legislation is concerned. The specialist gave a sorry impression, based on the findings of their organization and agreed with me that indeed it was time, to use her words, ‘we joined dots(medicine, wildlife, agriculture, and others)’ to confront and deal with the situation.

Basically, the scenario witnessed is unauthorized pesticides, including those banned or severely restricted in developed countries being found in Kenya. In addition, these together with others are found to occur at high levels that deem them toxic to man. This information is in a report by Kenya Organic Agricultural Network and can be found on Consumer Watch Kenya’s website at .Disturbing issues from the report include:

  • There are only 16 banned/restricted pesticides in Kenya currently, despite the fact that Kenya is a signatory to major conventions and protocols that deal with Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) e.g. Rotterdam Convention, Montreal Protocol, Stockholm Convention among others.
  • Of the 85,000 synthetic chemicals available worldwide, many are carcinogenic and damage the brain, the nervous and reproductive system. Many of these may leave residues in or on crops and on environment with potential exposure to human beings (and if I may add to wildlife and therefore the entire biodiversity is at risk).
  • Following random selection of purchase sites for vegetables in Nairobi city, the test results on the purchased vegetables were shocking in 10 out of the 15 pesticides detected, exhibiting higher levels than those reflected by EU as healthy for the consumption. These include 2 banned organophosphates (Parathion and methyl parathion).

It follows without doubt that man and animal as well as environment at large face heavy toxicity confrontation from pesticides. It is only cooperative responsibility that can sort us out of this mess.