WASHINGTON—Representatives Scott Franklin (FL-15) and Darren Soto (FL-09) today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging reconsideration of a ban on the usage of Thiram, an important fungicide used in the cultivation of strawberries. A ban of Thiram would be devastating to the strawberry production, according to industry experts. In December, EPA proposed a ban on the usage of Thiram due to potential harm posed to agricultural workers. It found that Thiram’s skin absorption factor was 15 percent, a level deemed too high to be considered safe. Eastman Chemical, the company which produces Thiram, conducted a follow up study which concluded the absorption factor is only 1.2 percent, well within the EPA’s acceptable range for safe use. In response, the members have asked EPA to re-examine the data and make a determination once all information has been considered.
“The strawberry industry is an integral part of Florida’s economy,” said Rep. Franklin. “It is important that all scientific data is taken into consideration as we work to secure the safety of agricultural workers and the health of the strawberry industry. I urge the EPA to fully assess all scientific research into Thiram as we continue to encourage the prosperity of Florida’s agricultural sector.”
“Florida agriculture helps feed families in the state and across the country,” said Rep. Soto. “As the EPA considers bans, it is critical for them to take all scientific evidence into account and make the best informed decisions. I hope they will reconsider the ban on the usage of Thiram and consider all data.”
The letter’s cosigners include Reps. Kat Cammack (FL-03), Al Lawson (FL-05), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Bill Posey (FL-08), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Val Demmings (FL-10), and Brian Mast (FL-18).
A copy of the letter can be accessed here.
All pesticides sold or distributed in the United States must be registered by EPA, based on scientific studies showing that they can be used without posing unreasonable risks to people or the environment. Because of advances in scientific knowledge, the law requires that pesticides which were first registered before November 1, 1984, be re-registered to ensure that they meet today's more stringent standards.
Because Thiram SC was registered before Nov. 1984, the EPA recently concluded within their legal recertification process that Thiram posed a risk to agricultural workers due to a Dermal Absorption Factor (DAF) that was outside of their acceptable range at 15%. Upon receipt of this information, Taminco US LLC, conducted an in vitro dermal absorption audited study in which they cited that a 1.2% DAF was found — arguing that the risks for all concerned groups are acceptable with margin of error above the relevant Level of Concern.
Thiram is essential in fighting off debilitating crop fungal diseases that reduce volume of yield and pose disastrous consequences. The Florida strawberry industry employs 15,000 people and is worth more than $1 billion, making it an important part of the state economy.