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Daily News Archive
From October 28, 2001

Chemical Companies Voluntary Request Cancellation of Fungicide

In a move to thwart future lawsuits, chemical companies voluntarily requested that the EPA cancel a fungicide called benomyl. DuPont, the technical registrant, made the initial request in April 2001 after citing the high costs of defending itself in court. DuPont paid more last year to cover legal fees than it did in sales: litigation fees cost $1.3 billion, while sales of the chemical only amounted to $96 million.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included parents whose children were exposed to a formulation of benomyl. Their children were born without eyes or with abnormally small eyes. This chemical is also toxic to fish, although the EPA had placed it in a category of low acute toxicity.

Benomyl is also linked to crop damage in 23 states. The Florida Department of Agriculture found it was conclusively linked to "significant to substantial" crop damage, including stunted, distorted leaf growth and interference with root growth. The fungicide is mostly used on fruits and vegetables.

The EPA received letters from the following other registrants requesting cancellation of all their products containing benomyl: American Mushroom Institute; Amvac Chemical Corp; Pursell Industries, Inc.; The Scotts Company; Value Garden Supply LLC; and Voluntary Purchasing Groups, Inc. This represents all of the companies holding registrations for benomyl. The agency published a notice of receipt of the registrants' request on October 12, 2001.