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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) assessment of the: (1) risk posed to birds by agricultural uses of granular carbofuran, including sorghum uses; and (2) economic impacts on growers of cancelling sorghum uses of granular carbofuran. GAO noted that: (1) comparative risk indices developed by EPA indicate that granular carbofuran is more toxic to birds than alternative pesticides; (2) birds are likely to be exposed to carbofuran granules as a result of normal agricultural activity and the birds' foraging patterns; (3) instead of assessing the risk to bird populations, EPA based its conclusions on the risk posed to individual birds; (4) granular carbofuran and its principal alternatives present similar acute human health concerns, but some alternatives also present chronic human health concerns; (5) the cost to growers of cancelling sorghum uses of granular carbofuran is estimated to be $2.6 million to $10.7 million annually because of increased production costs and yield losses; (6) cancelling sorghum uses of granular carbofuran may cause significant impacts in sorghum-growing areas that experience high infestations of pests; and (7) some alternative pesticides that EPA identified are nearly as effective as granular carbofuran in controlling sorghum pests, but these alternatives are generally more costly, have other disadvantages, and may not be available to growers in certain areas.

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