The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended phasing out carbofuran, a farm chemical, which is lethal to birds even in small doses. The agency has, however, approved continued use of 32 other widely-used insecticides, including malathion. All the approved insecticides are organophosphates and linked to cancer, fertility problems and damage to developing brains.
The decision has irked some EPA and other federal scientists, who have alleged the agency bowed to pressure from pesticide manufacturers and rushed through its safety review of many chemicals. In a letter to the EPA administrator, federal scientists and risk managers have urged EPA to ban organophosphates and several other pesticides. Scientists also resented EPA missing its deadline on taking a decision on the controversial chemical aldicarb. EPA says it will take another six weeks to decide about it. Earlier, the agency had recommended a ban on lindane, a chemical used to treat seeds. Under a 1996 food safety statute, the agency had to evaluate all 231 active ingredients in pesticides using new guidelines focusing on the risks to children and the effects of cumulative exposure.
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