Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 25, 2023

Contact:

Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, ndonley@biologicaldiversity.org

AgLogic Asks EPA to Dramatically Expand Florida Use of Dangerous Pesticide

125 Countries Ban Aldicarb, Which Can Impair Infants’ Brain Development

WASHINGTON— Pesticide-maker AgLogic has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve use of the dangerous pesticide aldicarb on Florida oranges and grapefruits.

The neurotoxin, which can impair children’s brain development, has been banned in more than 125 different countries. Nearly all major U.S. uses were voluntarily phased out in 2010.

The EPA approved a similar request in the waning days of the Trump administration, but Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried refused to allow the substance to be used in the state, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the Trump EPA’s approval.

“It’s awful to see aldicarb’s maker pushing, yet again, to expand its use after farmworker and conservation groups’ efforts prevented an environmental and human health catastrophe,” said Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA doesn’t control what requests the pesticide industry makes, but the agency’s response should be a quick and decisive denial of this application.”

The Trump EPA’s 2021 approval of aldicarb on Florida citrus came after intense political pressure and lobbying from the pesticide industry, which the EPA later admitted wrongly influenced its decision-making. Following the approval, Florida rejected its use because “aldicarb poses an unacceptable risk to human, animal and environmental health in Florida.”

Subsequently, in response to a lawsuit filed by farmworker and conservation groups, a federal court reversed the EPA’s approval because of blatant violations of the Endangered Species Act.

While aldicarb has previously been used to combat citrus greening disease, the EPA has already approved at least 18 different insecticides to kill the Asian citrus psyllid, the disease’s vector.

“The pesticide industry’s latest attempt to bring back aldicarb shows that its rhetoric about transitioning to safer pesticides is hypocritical and craven,” said Donley. “This chemical has been banned in more than 125 countries, but the pesticide industry’s more interested in making a quick buck than doing the right thing.”

Background

Aldicarb is a neurotoxin that can impair normal brain development in young children. Harms to people are similar to those seen in wildlife, where exposure can cause developmental defects, dizziness and blurred vision, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Aldicarb is classified as “extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization — its highest toxicity category — and one of only 35 pesticides subject to regulation under the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty designed to reduce trade of the most hazardous chemicals in the world. The United States is one of only a few countries around the world that has not ratified the treaty.

Aldicarb was responsible for the largest known outbreak of foodborne pesticide illness in the United States, when more than 1,300 people fell ill after eating watermelons contaminated with the pesticide in the 1980s.

In 2010 the EPA and Bayer reached an agreement to end U.S. use of aldicarb after the agency found that the pesticide posed unacceptable dietary risks to infants and young children. The crop use that resulted in the highest risk to infants and children was citrus, which Bayer agreed to cancel immediately.

After the 2010 phaseout of the biggest aldicarb uses, U.S. agricultural use of aldicarb has been consistently low, with under 100,000 pounds used each year. Despite its low use in recent years, aldicarb was detected in drinking-water systems in six states serving nearly 1 million people between 2015 and 2017.

Approval of aldicarb on citrus in Florida could allow 100,000 acres of citrus to be treated annually with up to 2.5 million pounds of products containing aldicarb — an enormous expansion in use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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