CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A pesticide that is a major product of Bayer CropScience's Institute plant will be phased out because it "may pose unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Tuesday.
EPA said Bayer had agreed to end production of the pesticide aldicarb by Dec. 31, 2014, following completion of a new agency study that found kids could be exposed to up to eight times the level of the chemical considered safe.
Bayer negotiated the phase-out plan with EPA after working for 20 years to keep its Temik brand of aldicarb on the market. Company press releases continued to maintain Tuesday that the phase-out does not mean aldicarb poses a "food safety concern" or "an actual risk."
"It's not surprising that Bayer would say there is no concern, since they've been fighting since 1990 to try to keep this thing on the market," said Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. "This has been two decades in the making."
The Institute plant has produced aldicarb for years, dating back to the Union Carbide days. The technology was sold to Rhone-Poulenc, then to Aventis, and then to Bayer.
Bayer officials said that they did not yet know what impact the phase-out action would have on operations and employment at the roughly 700-worker Institute facility.
Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, said the company told local officials job losses aren't inevitable and will depend on the plant's ability to juggle workers among various products.
"Bayer CropScience is committed to bringing new innovation solutions from seed to harvest to growers to ensure we continue to have a safe, abundant and affordable food supply," said Bayer CropScience CEO Bill Buckner.
Aldicarb is a carbamate pesticide, meaning it is derived from carbamic acid. Also important to aldicarb's production is methyl isocyanate, or MIC, the chemical building block that killed thousands of people in a 1984 leak from a Carbide plant in Bhopal, India.