Supreme Court Denies Review on EPA Decision

Move by environmental agency to revoke domestic tolerances of carbofuran won't get a high-court review.

Published on: Jun 2, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition by FMC Corporation and three national grower groups for review of a lower court ruling that upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to deny an administrative hearing on the revocation of domestic tolerances of carbofuran.

Dr. Michael Morelli, director of global regulatory affairs for FMC, notes that the court's decision not to review the lower-court ruling on EPA's actions "sets a bad precedent for U.S. agriculture."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit earlier reinstated import tolerance for carbofuran for rice, bananas, coffee and sugar cane, noting in its written opinion that EPA had acknowledged that "exposure to carbofuran in imported foods alone is safe." In light of that fact, the lower court ruled EPA's decision to revoke the import tolerance was arbitrary and capricious.

In essence, it will be fine for trading partners to use this effective insecticide but U.S. farmers won't have access to the technology for their own operations. FMC notes that after 40 years of productive use, carbofuran has not had a single incident of dietary or drinking water injury. The National Corn Growers Association, National Sunflowers Association, National Potato Council and FMC jointly petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. These grower associations, USDA and 50 Secretaries of State Departments of Agriculture went on record supporting the continued, but very limited use of carbofuran that FMC had proposed to EPA.

In responding to the court decision, NCGA President Bart Schott says, "It's unfortunate that the Supreme Court did not recognize the inconsistencies within the lower court ruling, which effectively deems the chemical safe for imported food but not for crops grown in the United States. We hope the EPA's handling of carbofuran is not an indication of how the agency intends to proceed with future product cancellations."