Published online: May 19, 2009
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In May 2009, EPA completed action to revoke existing carbofuran tolerances (residue limits in food) due to unacceptable dietary risks, especially to children, from consuming a combination of food and water with carbofuran residues
fter considering public comment on the Agency's July 2008 proposal, EPA concluded that combined exposure to carbofuran from food and water significantly exceeds EPA's level of concern for children, and does not meet the U.S. food safety standard. Based on these findings, EPA is moving as expeditiously as possible to address the unacceptable dietary risks to children. Following resolution of the tolerance revocations, EPA plans to proceed with cancellation of any remaining carbofuran uses due to unreasonable ecological and worker risks.
Because dietary exposures to infants and children are of particular concern, the Agency has moved to revoke carbofuran tolerances first, before canceling remaining carbofuran registrations. This approach provides the most direct and timely means to realize protection of children from dietary risks. It also allows multiple stakeholders an additional opportunity to comment.
Although food plus water risks from carbofuran clearly do not meet the safety standard as required by law, carbofuran is used on only a small percentage of the U.S. food supply, and most food is not expected to contain carbofuran residues. EPA's action is focused on promoting greater food safety. The U.S. has a safe and abundant food supply, and children and others should continue to eat a variety of foods, as recommended by the federal government and nutritional experts.
Carbofuran tolerances for all commodities will be revoked effective December 31, 2009. This means that no food crops in the U.S. will be allowed to have residues of carbofuran after December 31, unless it can be shown that the crop was treated before that date. EPA is working with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that food treated before the effective date of the tolerance revocations can continue to be sold and distributed.
EPA is encouraging growers to switch to safer pesticides or other environmentally preferable pest control strategies. The Agency has set the effective date in December because they believe this is the quickest time frame in which the decision can be practically implemented, and to ensure that growers have been provided with a reasonable amount of time to allow them to develop appropriate pest management strategies.
EPA establishes tolerances for pesticides that may be found on foods, and can also revoke tolerances to better safeguard public health and the environment. The Agency must modify or revoke any tolerance that it determines is unsafe, that is, that does not meet the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The Agency has revoked all tolerances for carbofuran because exposure through food and drinking water combined does not meet the FFDCA section 408 (b)(2) safety standard. For further information on this process, visit