American Bird Conservancy Petitions EPA
to Ban Import
of Food Containing Deadly Pesticide Residues |
For Immediate Release
, American Bird Conservancy, 202-234-7181 ext. 210
|American Bird Conservancy's petition
to ban import of food containing deadly pesticide residues
will protect a suite of American bird species such as
this Cedar Waxwing. Photo: US Fish Wildlife Service
(Washington D.C. August 4, 2009) American
Bird Conservancy has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to ban the import of crops containing any residues
of 13 pesticides that are banned or restricted for use in
the United States. These pesticides are highly toxic to birds,
but are commonly used on crops throughout Latin America where
many species of U.S. migratory birds spend the winter months.
In addition to the environmental risks to birds, several of
these chemicals also pose a risk to agricultural workers.
“Allowing residues of these hazardous
pesticides on imported food gives tacit U.S. approval to foreign
countries to use chemicals that are known to be deadly to
U.S. migratory birds,” said Dr. Michael Fry, American
Bird Conservancy’s Director of Conservation Advocacy.
“EPA has an obligation under Executive Order 13186,
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Endangered Species
Act to ensure that migratory birds are not harmed.”
Many Latin American countries that currently
use these pesticides export coffee, bananas, citrus crops,
and other fruits and vegetables to the United States. Agricultural
areas – in particular shade coffee farms – provide
valuable habitat for migratory birds, and so pesticide use
in these areas can pose a significant threat to bird populations.
“The EPA must protect U.S. migratory
birds on their wintering grounds by preventing these pesticides
from being imported on food products,” says Dr. Fry.
“Doing so will encourage the use of safer pesticides
and organic farming practices by foreign growers, at least
for those crops that are imported into the U.S.”
American Bird Conservancy is seeking to
revoke the import tolerances for cadusafos, cyproconazole,
diazinon, dithianon, diquat, dimethoate, fenamiphos, mevinphos,
methomyl, naled, phorate, terbufos, and dichlorvos.
The Avian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS),
a database of bird-pesticide interactions maintained for the
public by American Bird Conservancy, has records of bird deaths
resulting from nearly all of the 13 petitioned pesticides
before they were cancelled in the U.S. For example, 388 birds,
including cedar waxwings, mourning doves, and bluebirds were
killed by fenamiphos; phorate killed nearly 3,000 birds in
32 separate incidents, among them black necked stilts, eastern
bluebirds, and many waterfowl.
Cadusafos: EPA estimates
that cadusafos is used on about 10-15% of the annual banana
imports into the U.S. The principal countries exporting bananas
treated with cadusafos to the U.S. are Guatemala, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras. These countries provide
habitat for significant numbers of migratory birds, and the
continued use of this pesticide overseas, particularly in
granular form, is an unacceptable risk to these birds.
Diazinon: Diazinon is
highly toxic to birds and has been documented as the culprit
in over four hundred incidents that have left over 4,000 birds
dead. The EPA says diazinon poses an unacceptable risk to
agricultural workers and to birds and other wildlife species.
Mitigation measures, such as prohibiting use of a granular
formulation that is particularly dangerous for birds, limit
its use in the U.S., but these mitigation measures may not
be conducted overseas.
Diquat: Diquat is toxic
to humans and it is recommended that people avoid exposure
to crops for seven days after its use. However, birds will
continually utilize habitat such as coffee plantations during
and after pesticide application, placing them at risk. Dimethoate
and methomyl also pose a risk to workers, who are recommended
to avoid treated crops for 48 and 72 hours respectively after
use. Methomyl is also particularly toxic to birds.
Phorate: The EPA has determined
that phorate “…is very highly toxic to fish and
wildlife,” and that “birds and mammals may be
killed if granules are not properly covered with soil in all
areas of the treated field and in loading areas.” Workers
should avoid entering fields with phorate exposure for 48
to 72 hours after use. Phorate is used in granular form, which
is especially hazardous to birds foraging for seeds or grit;
it is used on coffee crops, and there is documentation of
bird kills due to phorate.
Terbufos: Terbufos is
an organophosphate insecticide, a type of chemical which is
universally particularly toxic to birds. Birds will continuously
use coffee plantation habitat while terbufos is being sprayed.
Humans are restricted from entering an area where this pesticide
is being applied for 48 hours, but no such restriction is
possible for birds, heightening their risk of exposure.
The full petition is available at http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/090730_petition.html
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) conserves native wild birds
and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard
the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats,
while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC
is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately
protected; that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation;
and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain
viable habitat. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization
that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the
independent group, Charity Navigator.