On Wednesday, 15 April 2009, two representatives FMC, the Philadelphia-based manufacturer of the controversial pesticide that is at the centre of lion poisoning in Kenya, Furadan, met with conservationists that WildlifeDirect had gathered for that purpose. The conservationists had high hopes following FMC's announcement that they had withdrawn the deadly chemical from the Kenyan market and were implementing a buy-back program to remove the existing stock from the country. They had hopes for a productive meeting that would result in the charting of a strategy to ensure that all Furadan stock still in the country is removed.
However, Dr Paula Kahumbu – WildlifeDirect's CEO and convener of the meeting – while blogging at Baraza, said that things were not as rosy as they expected. “Of course FMC are not really interested in wildlife per se” she said in her blog post dated April 16. It was harrowing, according to her, that FMC would consider re-introduction of Furadan in future.
The scariest thing we heard from FMC was that they “will reintroduce Furadan once the right conditions are in place” course they wouldn’t divulge what those were.
Paula does not hide her frustration especially that stemming from the fact that FMC did not officially acknowledge that their product was devastating wildlife in Kenya. FMC say that there is not enough evidence to conclusively say that Furadan is responsible for all these wildlife deaths and they had taken the initiative to remove the product from the market just as a precaution. As difficult as it is to get imperical evidence against Furadan in Africa, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that points to the preference to use Furadan to poison wildlife. “With all the other evidence we have, eg. people admitting to using Furadan, purple grains on carcasses baited for lions, purple grains on snails for the bird hunting in Bunyala…How much more obvious does it have to be? asks Paula.
What FMC does or who they meet – for they have scheduled several meetings with government bodies – there is one disturbing point about Furadan and Paula has it in her post.
What I can’t get my head around is how our government can defend the use of a chemical that is banned in Europe and for which the US EPA has found there is no safe way to use it in a country of educated people who also have excellent enforcement. In Kenya the people who use Furadan don’t even know how to read the label and none of them use any form of protective gear. That alone should make the officials question whether it’s safe for human use.