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Pesticide Restricted To Protect Salmon

by Britt E. Erickson
December 1, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 48

EPA, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, state agencies, rice growers, and pesticide manufacturer Valent have agreed to federally enforceable restrictions on the use of the pesticide thiobencarb in California. The move is designed to protect threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead trout. California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation previously put thiobencarb restrictions in place in 14 California counties where the endangered fish live. EPA is now incorporating California’s limits into the pesticide’s label throughout the U.S., which will make the limits federally enforceable. EPA’s action was prompted by a lawsuit filed in 2002 against EPA and NOAA Fisheries by the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides. The groups claimed that EPA failed to assess the effects of 54 pesticides on Pacific salmonids. As a result of that litigation, NOAA Fisheries evaluated the use of thiobencarb on rice in California and determined that it would not jeopardize salmon and steelhead trout if California’s protective measures are ensured. California is the only state where rice is grown in areas where Pacific salmon and steelhead trout live, according to EPA.


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