June 14, 2006

U.S. Government Plans to Phase out Use of Common Pesticide on Fruit, Other Crops

by Gene Johnson
The federal government plans to phase out a common pesticide that has been used on apples, pears and other crops since the late 1950s, acting amid complaints from environmental groups that the chemical poisons farmworkers.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it would end the use of azinphos-methyl beginning next year on nuts, nursery stocks and Brussels sprouts. The pesticide, also called AZM, would be banned on apples, blueberries, cherries, pears and parsley in 2010.

The agency's plan is up for public comment for two months.

During the phaseout, the EPA also plans to eliminate aerial spraying, require 100-foot buffers around water bodies and require medical monitoring of workers entering fields sprayed with AZM.

"This pesticide has put thousands of workers at risk of serious illness every year," Erik Nicholson, of the United Farmworkers of America, said in a news release Monday.

Farmworker and environmental groups sued the EPA in federal court in Seattle in 2004, arguing that the agency was wrong to continue allowing a pesticide that could cause seizures, paralysis and death. That lawsuit was settled when the EPA agreed to reconsider the use of the AZM and another pesticide, phosmet.

The environmental law firm Earthjustice said AZM is derived from nerve agents used during World War II. It has been most commonly used in Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Post a Comment

<< Home