The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) denied a state-level application by AgLogic for use of its pesticide Aldicarb on citrus crops in Florida. The use was given approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, farmworker and environmental groups asked the D.C. Circuit for a review of the decision on March 3.
According to a press release by FDACS on Wednesday, the department found that the application “failed to comply with requirements of federal law … and therefore does not meet the requirements of Florida state law.”
The statement cited that the EPA acknowledged as part of the D.C. Circuit lawsuit that it had not completed the required Endangered Species Act effects determination before giving aldicarb conditional approval for Florida oranges and grapefruit. The EPA asked the D.C. Circuit to remand the registration to give it time to complete the step, but not to vacate the registration as the plaintiffs requested.
Aldicarb is allegedly “responsible for the worst known outbreak of pesticide poisoning in North America” and has been determined to be extremely hazardous by the World Health Organization. According to FDACS, the pesticide has been banned in 125 countries.
FDACS explained that this admission from the EPA that it had not completed the effects determination led them to rule that the Aldicarb application does not meet legal requirements. AgLogic can, according to the press release, ask for an administrative hearing to appeal the FDACS decision.
The Center for Food Safety praised the decision, calling it a “victory for farm workers, public health, and the environment” in a press release. It alleged that the conditional approval created a threat to Florida’s citrus industry, citing harm to humans from exposure to Aldicarb and that the pesticide is toxic to animals.
“We applaud the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ decision to prevent spraying of aldicarb in Florida. Aldicarb is banned in most of the world, but was approved at the last minute by Trump EPA to control citrus greening. States should not have to do EPA’s work. EPA should ban aldicarb immediately,” said Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the Center for Food Safety.
Plaintiffs in the D.C. Circuit lawsuit, Farmworker Association of Florida, Environmental Working Group, and Center for Biological Diversity, had a similar argument against the EPA’s approval purporting that it would cause significant harm to farmworkers and their families, who are exposed to the chemicals in the pesticide.
“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 said in the FDACS press release. “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.”
The EPA, however, explained in its motion filed on April 19, that the conditional registration contains requirements that are designed to mitigate effects on humans and the environment. The EPA purported that it addressed the plaintiffs’ claims of harm and did sufficient research, and explained the benefits of Aldicarb for citrus growers and requests from them to approve the use of the pesticide.