DuPont may stop selling and recall its widely used Imprelis herbicide after customers and several lawsuits complained that the treatment has killed thousands of trees, a federal agency said.
According to Aug. 3 letters to DuPont Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the company “has stated that it is willing to voluntarily stop the sale and distribution of Imprelis and to recall Imprelis from its distributors and customers.”
The EPA “strongly” encouraged DuPont to reconsider its request that thousands of documents on Imprelis’ safety and effectiveness remain confidential, citing the “public interest” in releasing them.
It also encouraged DuPont to meet by next Tuesday to discuss why the agency should not halt sales.
While DuPont has cooperated with the agency’s probe, the EPA is preparing a “stop sale” order, a person familiar with the matter said. The person requested anonymity because of a lack of authority to speak publicly on the probe.
The letters were written by Abraham Ferdas, director of the EPA’s land and chemicals division, and posted on the agency’s website.
DuPont did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Based in Wilmington, Delaware, DuPont is one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, with $31.51 billion of net sales in 2010. Its agriculture business, which includes herbicides, typically accounts for nearly one-third of net sales.
The EPA had conditionally approved Imprelis for sale last October, but DuPont this year began receiving many complaints that the herbicide may be lethal to mature landscape trees.
DuPont has advised customers not to use Imprelis near Norway spruce and white pines.
On its website, DuPont has called Imprelis “the most scientifically advanced turf herbicide in over 40 years,” targeting broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, clover, plantains, wild violet and ground ivy.
It said the product went through more than 400 trials, and was approved for use in all U.S. states except California and New York.
(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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