EPA moves to ban common pesticide

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to ban a common pesticide that it says harms aquatic animals and environments.

The EPA issued a notice of intent Tuesday to cancel registration of the pesticide flubendiamide, sold by Bayer CropScience and Nichino America and used on cotton, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers and other crops.

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The agency had to start the process of banning the pesticide because Bayer and Nichino refused in January to comply with a request to voluntarily stop selling the products.

“Required studies showed flubendiamide breaks down into a more highly toxic material that is harmful to species that are an important part of aquatic food chains, especially for fish, and is persistent in the environment,” the agency said. “EPA concluded that continued use of the product would result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.”

The EPA said that when Bayer and Nichino were first allowed to sell the products in 2008 and 2009, they agreed to pull them if the agency found evidence that they were harmful.

But the companies did not stop their sales after the EPA asked them to, in violation of the terms of the agreement, the agency said.

Bayer, which acts as Nichino’s registered agent in the United States, said it disagreed with the EPA’s scientific methodology behind its research. It said the agency used theoretical modelling that exaggerated the risks of the chemicals.

“We are disappointed the EPA places so much trust on computer modeling and predictive capabilities when real-world monitoring shows no evidence of concern after seven years of safe use,” Peter Coody, Bayer’s vice president of environmental safety, said in a statement.

The companies have 30 days to request a formal hearing if they want to keep fighting the EPA’s order.