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Daminozide: now you see it....

Daminozide: Now you see it...

Since EPA first proposed banning daminozide in 1985 (SN: 9/7/85, p.149), farmers have been encouraged to abandon use of this popular plant-growth regulator. The chemical, known to cause cancers in animals, keeps apples from prematurely falling from trees and can nearly double the shelf life of fresh apples (SN: 9/14/85, p.169). Many people juice manufacturers recently announced they would use only daminozide-free fruit. Consumers Union, the Mt. Vernon, N.Y.-based independent product-research organization, decided to see how well the manufacturers followed through on that promise. Its just-completed survey of 32 apple juices ---all from manufacturers who had taken the daminozide-free pledge--found residues of the chemical in more than 70 percent of the tested juices. A detailed report, including brand names, is scheduled to appear in the May CONSUMER REPORTS.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Food Processors Association (NFPA), a technical arm of the food-processing industry, also surveyed for daminozide in apple juice, apple sauce and other packaged apple products. Last week it reported that only one sample in 2,449 showed any traces.

Why the big difference? The newer Conditt method used by Consumers Union is sensitive to 0.02 parts per million (ppm). Levels in the 23 juices Consumers Union found to contain daminozide were 0.53 ppm or lower. In fact, only five contained 0.3 ppm or more. According to Roger Coleman at NFPA, the PAM II technique his group used is sensitive only down to 1 ppm, but has been the standard test for daminozide.

Last month EPA announced it would accelerate cancellation of daminozide's "pesticide" registration on the basis of new estimates it calculated showing that daminozide residues on apples in the marketplace--in the 0.5-ppm-and-under range--constitute a potential lifetime cancer risk 45 times higher than the one-in-a-million risk if considers unacceptable. Asks Consumers Union spokeswoman Marnie Goodman, "Why would anyone use a method that's only sensitive to 1ppm [as NFPA has]? They're apparently hoping the public will believe that anything below 1 ppm is not a significant risk." But based on EPA's new risk assessment, she says, "it doesn't look like you can be calm about a level like that anymore."
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Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 11, 1989
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