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Idaho has effectively banned the use of Alar on apples, becoming the first state to restrict the use of the suspected cancer-causing chemical.

"Even though there is no conclusive evidence of the health risk associated with Alar, the continuing controversy is threatening our world-class product," Gov. Cecil Andrus said. "That is simply unacceptable."Spokesmen for Idaho's $26 million apple industry estimated growers have lost more than $1 million this season because consumers are concerned about the health risks of Alar. Idaho produces about 3 million bushels of apples per year.

Andrus said the Idaho Apple Commission asked him to restrict the use of Alar by signing an emergency order requiring anyone who has Alar to report to the Department of Agriculture the amount on hand.

A permit must be obtained before it can be used, and growers marketing any apples treated with Alar must notify the state.

State Agriculture Director Richard Rush said it amounted to a ban on Alar for food production.

Larry Link, executive director of the Apple Commission, said most Idaho growers have stopped using the chemical anyway. It normally is applied to apples through the end of June to produce uniform ripening.

Four U.S. senators said they would ask Congress to ban the use of Alar on apples.