This is a diagram of a molecule of carbofuran. It is a highly toxic pesticide. The United States EPA ( That’s the Environmental Protection Agency in case you’ve forgotten. It’s been suffering from disuse atrophy.) yesterday proposed a complete ban on carbofuran. The Agency even took issue with the Department of Agriculture which opposes banning the neurotoxin. A quarter of a teaspoon of the liquid can kill a human. Manufactured by FMC Corporation, once it was sold in granular form. A single granule would kill any bird. Millions of birds died from it. But banning the granules did not stop its sale in liquid form which is just as toxic but at least does not mimic an edible seed. In 2006 the EPA found that if a flock of mallard ducks went into an alfalfa field within a week of the field being sprayed with carbofuran, that 84% of the ducks would die. The pesticide is also quite an effective killer of bees as well as “pest” insects.
It is so dangerous that it is only sold in sealed containers which cannot be opened by the end user except to attach to a sprayer. About a million pounds of carbofuran is spayed on crops in the United States every year but much more is used in other countries. It is especially popular for “protecting” soybeans, bananas, rice, and coffee.
Under the proposed EPA ban (There is a 60 day public comment period before the rule goes into effect.) no residue on any food will be permitted in the United States, including imported food. That should have the effect of dramatically reducing its use in other parts of the world which is a good thing. Passing a poisoned chalice to the wild world is to put it to our lips too.