Growers comment on pesticide ban

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

June 17, 2006

The effect of the Environmental Protection Agency’s potential ban on use of azinphos methyl by fruit growers has yet to be fully known in the Hood River Valley.

The agency announced last week that it was proposing to phase out the remaining uses of the pesticide, known more commonly as Guthion. The EPA is taking comments for two months before making its final decision.

The act stemmed from a court case settled in January involving the United Farm Workers agency in Western Washington concerning the health effects of the pesticide.

Guthion belongs to the class of pesticides known as organophosphates, which fruit growers use to kill the codling moth.

“It has for some time now been the cornerstone of the codling moth program,” said Craig Mallon, a field man for Duckwall-Pooley fruit growers.

He also grows pears and cherries on his own. Mallon said the change has been expected for some time now by people in the industry. Pear and apple grower Larry Martin said he began transitioning away from using Guthion two years ago.

“For me, because I’m transitioning away from organophosphates it (the ban) won’t have that much effect,” he said. “But I’m also actively working toward not using phosmets either, known as Imidan.”

In addition to the potential Guthion ban, the EPA is also seeking comment on extending the interval between spraying and re-entering orchards for nine phosmet uses. The EPA proposed to phase out by 2010 the use of Guthion on apples, blueberries, cherries, parsley and pears.

During the interim period, the agency has suggested additional restrictions on reducing annual application rates, additional monitoring of workers, and larger buffer zones. The agency’s timeline includes determining by Aug. 3 whether to approve or deny growers’ applications to retain use for the remaining 10 uses. That includes use of Guthion on apples, cherries, and pears.

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