Statement by Commissioner Nikki Fried on Federal Aldicarb Pesticide Ruling

Jun 8, 2021

Tallahassee, Fla. — Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned federal approvalapplication/pdf ] of aldicarb, a highly-toxic pesticide approved for use in Florida in the Trump Administration’s final week in office. This follows the decision of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in April to deny approval for aldicarb’s use on citrus crops in the state, citing the pesticide registration applicant’s failure to comply with requirements of federal law.

“One of the nation’s highest courts has now agreed that our decision to deny aldicarb’s use in Florida was correct, is rooted in the law, and is based on the science,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “This ruling acknowledges that the Trump Administration’s registration of aldicarb violated federal law, and that the pesticide’s environmental effects would remain unconsidered for years to come. I remain fully committed to working with Florida’s proud citrus growers to support solutions for our state’s signature crop without risking human, animal, and environmental health.”

“We applaud this decision by the court whose ruling confirms what we already knew — that there is no place for a toxic pesticide like aldicarb to be used on crops in Florida where our workers and our water would be at grave risk,” said Jeannie Economos, coordinator of the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project at Farmworker Association of Florida. “Farmworkers can breathe a bit easier knowing that this neurotoxin will not be used on the citrus crops they harvest. We are grateful to Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried for refusing to allow this toxin to poison our communities, our food and our environment. This decision sends a message to EPA — protecting people and the environment must be their top priority.”

Background: On April 21, 2021, Commissioner Fried and FDACS denied AgLogic Chemical LLC’s state pesticide registration application for the pesticide aldicarb on citrus crops in the state of Florida. The pesticide registrant’s application failed to comply with requirements of federal law, specifically Section 7(a)(2) of 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), and therefore did not meet the requirements of Florida state law, specifically 487.041(2), Florida Statutes. On June 7, 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that aldicarb’s registration had not met the requirements of federal law, that the requirements would not be met before 2024 after the registration had expired, and cited FDACS’ denial of state pesticide registration.

About Aldicarb: Aldicarb is an N-methyl carbamate insecticide primarily used as a nematicide. Responsible for the worst known outbreak of pesticide poisoning in North America, aldicarb is one of 28 active pesticide ingredients deemed extremely hazardous (Class Ia) by the World Health Organization, the WHO’s highest hazard designation. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), aldicarb can cause weakness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, tearing, sweating, and tremors, and high doses can cause death by paralyzing the respiratory system. The pesticide has been banned in 125 countries.

Phaseout: In 2010, the EPA phased out aldicarb’s use in the United States under an agreement with the pesticide’s manufacturer, with citrus and potatoes phased out first. According to the EPA, the agency’s 2010 risk assessment “indicates that aldicarb no longer meets the Agency’s rigorous food safety standards and may pose unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children,” and to protect the food supply, “EPA is initiating action to terminate uses of aldicarb, and also plans to revoke aldicarb tolerances.”

Federal Approval: On January 12, 2021, the EPA granted approval for aldicarb’s use in Florida on up to 100,000 acres of oranges and grapefruit for three years through 2023. The product was to be used as a nematicide to combat the invasive pest Asian citrus psyllid, which transmits the citrus greening bacterial pathogen. This approval was challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Farmworker Association of Florida, and Environmental Working Group. Pesticides must be registered with the State of Florida through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and must receive approval by the department for use in Florida.

State Denial: On April 19, 2021, the EPA acknowledged in its filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that “it did not make an Endangered Species Act (ESA) effects determination prior to conditionally approving the use of aldicarb on oranges and grapefruit in Florida.” Therefore, the department determined that the registrant’s application did not meet the requirements of current state and federal law for the below reasons.

  1. The Registrant’s application does not satisfy the substantive and procedural requirements set forth in Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1536(a)(2), because no determination was made whether the EPA registration orders may affect protected endangered and threatened species nor was a complete consultation conducted prior to the issuance of the final order granting the conditional registration.
  2. The Registrant’s application does not satisfy the substantive and procedural requirements as set forth in section 487.041(2), Florida Statutes, because the Registrant’s application did not comply with federal law requirements.