Dole to stop use of Paraquat

WESTLAKE VILLAGE
October 8, 2007 10:14am
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•  Immediate phase-out

•  ‘Responds to developing marketplace conditions’


The widely used but controversial chemical Paraquat will no longer by used by the Dole Food Co. Inc., in its agricultural operations, it says.

The Westlake Village-based firm says it is beginning an immediate phasing out of the herbicide worldwide except in Costa Rica for Dole’s pineapple operations where the targeted phase-out program extends to June 30, 2008.

During the Costa Rica phase-out program, Dole says it will continue its practice of applying Paraquat-containing herbicides only through mechanized equipment such as boom spray devices under supervised conditions.

“Dole’s implementation of this phase-out program responds to developing marketplace conditions in Europe and elsewhere regarding the use of this herbicide, while also balancing needed compliance with the local regulatory requirements,” says David DeLorenzo, president and chief executive officer, in a written statement.

Use of the herbicide is being banned by the countries of the European Union, with the United Kingdom being the latest to order a halt to sales. France and Germany did the same earlier this year.

It is still widely used in the United States. In California alone, in 2005, more than 1.4 million acres of crops were treated with the herbicide, according to figures compiled by the Pesticide Action Network, which says it bases its conclusions on figures from the California Agricultural Statistics Service and the Department of Pesticide Regulation Pesticide Use Reporting data.

Paraquat is the trade name for N,N'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridinium dichloride, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

The compound is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is quick-acting, non-selective, and kills green plant tissue on contact, says Wikipedia.

In the United States, it is available primarily as a liquid in various strengths. It is classified as “restricted use,” which means that it can be used only by people who are licensed applicators, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Because Paraquat is highly poisonous, the form of it that is marketed in the United States has a blue dye to keep it from being confused with beverages such as coffee, a sharp odor to serve as a warning, and an added agent to cause vomiting if someone drinks it,” says the CDC.


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