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Diazinon tales

Get your news from two different sources and chances are good that you'll be left scratching your head wondering what actually happened. If the news is related to an emotionally charged issue such as pesticide use, it's virtually guaranteed that you'll feel befuddled. Consider the December 5, 2000, announcement of Syngenta's voluntary phaseout of the insecticide diazinon for household and garden use. Why phase out this popular insecticide? It's hard to say based on these two conflicting reports.

USA Today The government will announce a ban Tuesday on the insecticide diazinon, the last widely used pest control product made from a class of chemicals linked to health risks for children. The Environmental Protection agency (EPA) has reached a voluntary agreement with diazinon's chief manufacturer, Syngenta

Syngenta company press release Syngenta Crop Protection USA today announced a four-year phaseout from its diazinon insecticide business. The company made the decision to end its diazinon sales after a full analysis of the product's financial performance

One account seems to imply that Syngenta was pressured into giving up diazinon, a dangerous pesticide, whereas the other implies that the company decided to limit production of the product because it had reached the end of its primary life cycle.

So is diazinon dangerous, or just unprofitable? With new reduced risk insecticides available that are both safer and more profitable to market, we might conclude that defending diazinon's safety was simply too costly. In the end, Syngenta's strategic retreat from the product was heralded not by cheers but jeers from environmental activists still giddy from their June victory in pressuring Dow AgroSciences to voluntarily cancel most in-and-around-the-home uses of Dursban insecticide.

Most agricultural uses of diazinon and Dursban remain intact, for now. According to the EPA, the diazinon phaseout will reduce risks associated with residential use and any potential harm to drinking water and field workers. About 70% of current low-risk agricultural uses will continue. For more information, check out

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