May 8, 2021

FDACS Issues Denial of Aldicarb Pesticide Usage Application in Florida

| 4/21/2021

Today, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services denied AgLogic Chemical LLC’s state pesticide registration application for the pesticide aldicarb on citrus crops in the state of Florida. The pesticide registrant’s application failed to comply with requirements of federal law, specifically Section 7(a)(2) of 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), and therefore does not meet the requirements of Florida state law, specifically 487.041(2), Florida Statutes. 

“Florida’s vital citrus industry has faced so many challenges, from natural disasters and production issues to the terrible effects of citrus greening. I stand shoulder to shoulder with our citrus growers and we’re proud to support them, fighting for state funding and facilitating innovative new practices as they produce our state’s signature crop,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “While there are promising new horizons for fighting citrus greening, like recent breakthroughs at UF/IFAS on genetic resistance, aldicarb poses an unacceptable risk to human, animal, and environmental health in Florida, is one of the world’s most toxic pesticides, and is banned in more than 100 countries. The registrant’s application does not meet the requirements of state law, and we must therefore deny the registration of aldicarb for use in the State of Florida. I look forward to working with our citrus growers, the EPA, and all partners to continue supporting Florida citrus in an environmentally conscious way.” 

Background: Aldicarb is an N-methyl carbamate insecticide primarily used as a nematicide. Responsible for the worst known outbreak of pesticide poisoning in North America, aldicarb is one of 28 active pesticide ingredients deemed extremely hazardous (Class Ia) by the World Health Organization, the WHO’s highest hazard designation. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aldicarb can cause weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, tearing, sweating, and tremors, and high doses can cause death by paralyzing the respiratory system. The pesticide has been banned in 125 countries.

Phaseout: In 2010, the EPA phased out aldicarb’s use in the United States under an agreement with the pesticide’s manufacturer, with citrus and potatoes phased out first. According to the EPA, the agency’s 2010 risk assessment “indicates that aldicarb no longer meets the Agency’s rigorous food safety standards and may pose unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children,” and to protect the food supply, “EPA is initiating action to terminate uses of aldicarb, and also plans to revoke aldicarb tolerances.” 

Federal Approval: On January 12, 2021, the EPA granted approval for aldicarb’s use in Florida on up to 100,000 acres of oranges and grapefruit for three years through 2023. The product was to be used as a nematicide to combat the invasive pest Asian citrus psyllid, which transmits the citrus greening bacterial pathogen. This approval was challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Farmworker Association of Florida, and Environmental Working Group. Pesticides must be registered with the State of Florida through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and must receive approval by the department for use in Florida. 

State Denial: On April 19, 2021, the EPA acknowledged in its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that “it did not make an Endangered Species Act (ESA) effects determination prior to conditionally approving the use of aldicarb on oranges and grapefruit in Florida.” Therefore, the department has determined that the registrant’s application does not meet the requirements of current state and federal law for the below reasons. The applicant will have the opportunity to request an administrative hearing to challenge the department’s determination.

  1. The Registrant’s application does not satisfy the substantive and procedural requirements set forth in Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), because no determination was made whether the EPA registration orders may affect protected endangered and threatened species nor was a complete consultation conducted prior to the issuance of the final order granting the conditional registration.
  2. The Registrant’s application does not satisfy the substantive and procedural requirements as set forth in section 487.041(2), Florida Statutes, because the Registrant’s application did not comply with federal law requirements.

"Aldicarb is one of the most dangerous neurotoxic chemicals found anywhere in the world, so toxic it was banned in the U.S. and more than 100 other countries and is one of the few pesticides classified as “extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization. It can lead to illness and death in adults, children, and animals, and has no place in Florida's food, water, or soil," said Deborah Foote, Acting Chapter Director at Sierra Club Florida. "Despite the Trump EPA approving its use on citrus, Commissioner Fried has taken a courageous stand by denying its use in Florida, sending a clear message that the health of our farmworkers, public health, child development, and environmental quality will not be compromised by approval of extremely hazardous chemicals in our state."

“Aldicarb presents a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of Florida’s farmworkers who harvest our citrus crops and for those families who live near the groves,” said Antonio Tovar, Principal Investigator at the Farmworker Association of Florida and Policy Associate at the National Family Farm Coalition. “Producing and harvesting our food should not mean being subject to illness or death from toxic pesticides. That’s why we support the wise decision of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to ban this chemical’s use in our state. We wish other politicians held the same respect for science when developing and implementing public policies.” 

“The science is clear, there is simply no way aldicarb can be used without putting small children, farmworkers, or imperiled wildlife at risk,” said Dr. Nathan Donley, Senior Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even extremely low doses in water or on food can have dangerous impacts on brain development in young children. In a state fully dependent on its groundwater, the last thing Floridians need is a chemical like aldicarb that is known to readily leach through soils into drinking water supplies and persist for years.” 

Support for Citrus Industry: Commissioner Fried has been a strong advocate for Florida’s citrus industry, helping secure vital citrus funding in the 2020-21 state budget including $8 million for citrus research projects, $7.4 million for citrus health and fighting pests and diseases, and $19.2 million to pay outstanding Citrus Canker claims to Lee County. In the 2021-22 state budget, Fried has requested $14 million to support Florida citrus production, health, and research. Fried also helped establish a state direct-support organization to manage the Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program planting 5,000 new acres of citrus groves using experimental techniques, and fought against the Trump Administration’s decision to allow imported Chinese citrus in direct competition with Florida citrus.

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