According to internet sources, “FMC and three national growers groups filed a petition in November 2009 with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA’s action to deny an Administrative Hearing. In December 2009, the court denied a request for a stay, granted our request for expedited review, and granted the request of CLA and others to file amicus briefs. Both the EPA and FMC filed briefs and the court heard oral arguments this past Monday, March 22. As is generally the case, the judges did not decide from the bench, and instead will issue their ruling by written opinion. While there is no fixed deadline for publication, we expect a decision within two to five months.”
And, Salem-news.com reports that “Opening arguments were heard in an appeal starting yesterday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that will decide the fate of carbofuran, one of the most toxic pesticides to birds. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) – the nation’s leading bird conservation organization – hopes the judge’s gavel will sound the death knell for this chemical in the United States, which is thought to have caused the deaths of tens of millions of birds since its use began in 1965.
Carbofuran, which is produced by FMC Corp, is an insecticide used to kill pests on corn, soy beans, cotton, potatoes, and other crops. It has already been much restricted, with the most dangerous, granular formulation that was estimated by the EPA to have killed up to three million birds per year (though other estimates suggest up to 90 million birds were killed), banned in 1994 and restricted uses only to the liquid formulation, which is also highly toxic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the process of cancelling all uses in 2006. In an unprecedented move, FMC fought the cancellation, necessitating a protracted Agency hearing process and court battle leading to today’s final appeal”
Well things are hotting up here in Kenya too.
In response to our complaints and reports, the Ministry of Agriculture has created a task force to address the problem of Furadan and our first meeting is tomorrow. At that meeting will be government departments as well as industry and NGO participants. We are hoping to impress on the stakeholders, the need for a precautionary approach when dealing with pesticides in this country. To date the Ministry of Agriculture and the Pest Control Products Board have been stating that Furadan is a “safe pesticide” and that the “benefits outweigh the harm”.
We do not know what this judgement is based on as we are not aware of any research that proves thisn, or any regular monitoring of howt eh pesticide is being distributed, used, whether proper use is enforced, or monitoring of residues on food crops, impacts on health or environmental.
Based on our own work we know that the labeled instructions are hardly ever implemented due to lack of safety materials (gloves, overalls, boots, face masks, air filters), most farmers do not store this or any pesticide under lock and key, and the pesticides are used in water ways, in irrigation schemes and for elimination of vermin all of which is against the instructions on the label. When people are harmed by this pesticide they do not report to the PCPB or national Poison board. According to one agrovet and a victim we spoke to, there is no guidance for treatment of pesticide poisoning, they simply advise users to drink water or milk, and eat raw eggs as a remedy.
Though FMC and our government agencies have not exactly been sympathetic about the impacts of carbofuran on wildlife, I keep reminding our friends that we should not feel so helpless. Our Pesticide control laws are on our side. The Pesticide Control Act allows for the Minister for Agriculture to ban any registered pesticide if new information becomes available; The EPA revocation of carbofuran tolerances in USA constitutes new information and this is something they cannot deny. No country in Africa can afford a Silent Spring, Kenya can be proud to lead the way on saying no to becoming a pesticide dumping ground for pesticides banned in the west.
As Richard Leakey says “If Furadan is not safe enough for use in America, then it’s not safe enough for us to use in Africa”
The problem of pesticide poisoning of predators is not unique to Kenya. All across Africa pesticides are being used as an easy and effective way of killing. A case in point is the recent tragic poisoning of 40 critically endangered vultures in Botswana. Though the pesticide has not been identified, it is extremely potent and took only minute to kill the birds. The tragedy is that these birds were killed on the edge of the Okovango Swamp. They were the casualty in an attempt to kill lions and hyenas. Despite the heavy penalties in Botswana the poisoning of wildlife using pesticides is driving vultures to extinction.
Although FMC have removed Fruadan from teh shelves in Kenya, we are asking our government for a complete ban on Carbofuran to prevent other producers from distributing it, and to make the message crystal clear. We want Agrovets that are storing this and other unapproved products to know that it is illegal and to enable enforcement officers to take action. To date the Governmetn of Kenya has been mum on the hazards posed by Furadan and carbofuran based pesticides.
So, wherever you are, please keep us in your thoughts and send positive vibrations tomorrow. We will presenting new evidence of the lion deaths near Amboseli as well as the preliminary findings of Martins research in the irrigation schemes.
Keep supporting us, we are confident that we can make progress on this deadly pesticide.
Keep reading this blog for updates