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EPA Wants to Stop Sale|of Common Insecticide

(CN) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to stop sales of an insecticide used on more than 200 crops, saying it injures the aquatic food chain, despite opposition from Bayer CropScience.

The EPA said Tuesday it will withdraw approval for flubendiamide, an insecticide produced by Bayer CropScience and Nichino America, because of its risk to aquatic invertebrates.

"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 EPA said in a statement.

Flubendiamide is registered for use on more than 200 crops, including soybeans, almonds, peanuts, cotton, tomatoes and watermelon. Some crops get as many as six applications a year.

It is the active ingredient in Bayer's Belt and Nichino's Tourismo and Vetica insecticides.

The EPA had issued a time-limited registration to the two companies under the condition that if it found unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, the companies would submit a request for voluntary cancellation.

The EPA this year requested such a cancellation by Feb. 5, but the companies refused to comply.

Bayer CropScience said at the time that the EPA's methods exaggerated the environmental risk and that cancellation would prevent farmers from using a critical pest management tool.

"Denying a product's registration and ignoring its safe history based on unrealistic theoretical calculations calls into question the EPA's commitment to innovation and sustainable agriculture," Bayer vice president of regulatory affairs Dana Sargent said in a statement.

The executive director of the American Pistachio Growers said that cancellation of the insecticide would be "a significant loss for growers of pistachios."

"The loss of this chemistry would make it more difficult than ever to control pests like the navel orange worm and the peach twig borer, which are now significantly impacting pistachio production in California," Richard Matoian said. "What's ironic and unfortunate is this would force tree nut growers to resort to older, less effective, but more potentially disruptive chemistries to manage these same pests."

Bayer, Nichino and anyone who may be adversely affected by the cancellation has 30 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Crops that have been properly treated with flubendiamide or that may be treated with existing stocks can still be sold legally. The EPA said that provisions on handling existing stocks of the pesticide will be completed when the products have been canceled.

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