U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review EPA Decision on Carbofuran Domestic Tolerances

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition by FMC Corp. and three national grower groups for review of a lower appellate court ruling which had upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to deny an administrative hearing on the revocation of domestic tolerances for carbofuran.    

Carbofuran is an N-methyl carbamate insecticide and nematicide that has been registered to control pests in soil and on leaves in a variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. No residential uses are registered.

EPA has concluded that dietary, worker, and ecological risks are unacceptable for all uses of carbofuran. All products containing carbofuran generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment and do not meet safety standards, and therefore are ineligible for reregistration.

"We are greatly disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to review the lower court's ruling on EPA's actions, which sets a bad precedent for U.S. agriculture," said Dr. Michael Morelli, Director of Global Regulatory Affairs, FMC Agricultural Products Group.  

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit earlier reinstated import tolerances for carbofuran for rice, bananas, coffee, and sugar cane, noting in its written opinion that EPA had acknowledged that "exposure to carbofuran in imported foods alone is safe."  In light of the fact, the court ruled that EPA's decision to revoke the import tolerances for these foods was "arbitrary and capricious."

FMC believes carbofuran is a safe product after 40 years of productive use without a single incident of dietary or drinking water injury.  The National Corn Growers Association, National Sunflower Association, National Potato Council and FMC jointly petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court.  These grower associations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all 50 Secretaries of State Departments of Agriculture went on record supporting the continued, but very limited use of carbofuran that FMC had proposed to EPA.

EPA continues to find that dietary exposures to carbofuran from all sources combined are not safe.

EPA encourages growers to switch from carbofuran to safer pesticides or other environmentally preferable pest control strategies. Since the tolerances are revoked, EPA reminds growers that carbofuran should not have been used on any food crops since December 31, 2009. Use of carbofuran after this date would result in adulterated food products, which would be subject to appropriate enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration.