Daily News Archive
August 7, 2006
Pesticide Review- Are our Children Better Protected?
(Beyond Pesticides, August 7, 2006) August 3, 2006
marked the congressionally mandated deadline for the Environmental Protecion
Agency’s (EPA’s) safety review of thousands of widely used
pesticide products, from home lawn weed killers to insecticides used
in food production. The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 required
EPA to review and reregister food use pesticides, and reassess the amount
of residues that are allowed on food, the tolerances, specifically with
children’s unique vulnerability in mind. The review includes 231
organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, known to damage the developing
nervous system of fetuses, infants, and children.
On the tenth anniversary of FQPA enactment, EPA completed over 99% or
9,637 of the 9,721 tolerance reassessment decisions resulting in recommendations
for the revocation of 3,200 tolerances, the modification of 1,200 tolerances,
and the confirmed safety of 5,237 tolerances. The reregistration process
has resuled in cancellation of nearly 4,400 individual pesticide end-use
product registrations out of a current universe of 17,592.
Simultaneously, EPA announced immediate cancellation of most uses of
the highly toxic chemical carbofuran, after a review that has lasted
more than two decades. Thanks to public pressure and overwhelming scientific
data showing harm, the agency announced yesterday its conclusion that
there are considerable risks associated with carbofuran in food and
drinking water, risks to pesticide applicators and risks to birds that
are exposed in treated fields. The pesticide, which is sold under the
name “Furadan” by FMC Corporation, is one of the most toxic
pesticides to birds left on the market. It is responsible for the deaths
of millions of birds and wildlife since its introduction in 1967. See
more on carbofuran decision.
So, is our food supply safer and our children fully protected? A look
at the neurobehavioral associations of organophosphates exposures with
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, a growing neurobehavioral
disorder among children, suggests not. Trends available during the last
10 years show a major increase in ADHD among children. A 1999 Report
of the U.S.
Surgeon General on Mental Health Report states between 1.398 million
(3%) and 2.330 million (5%) of school-age children had AD/HD. In 2003,
Disease Control (CDC) estimates 4.4 million youth ages 4-17 have
been diagnosed with ADHD and 7.8% of school-aged children were reported
to have an ADHD diagnosis by their parent.
link exposure to certain common neurotoxic pesticides, such as carbaryl
– a pesticide found on the shelves of retail stores as well as
in agriculture - to adverse cognitive and behavioral effects in mice
and other subjects. Research by Dr. Warren Porter, a researcher at University
of Wisconsin, has shown that even low levels of pesticide exposure can
cause endocrine disruption, which can lead to learning disabilities.
Another study published in the March 2003 issue of Nature Genetics demonstrates
a clear genetic link between exposure to organophosphate pesticides
and neurological disorders such as ADHD and gulf war syndrome. A 2002
peer-reviewed study found children born to parents exposed to glyphosate
(Roundup) show a higher incidence of attention deficit disorder and
hyperactivity (ADD and ADHD). In 1995/96, glyphosate ranked as the second
most used active ingredient in non-agricultural settings, with five
to seven million pounds used in the home and garden and nine to twelve
million pounds used in commercial settings.
On August 4, the
Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General
(IG) issued an evaluation report of the Office of Pesticide Programs
(OPP), entitled Measuring
the Impact of the Food Quality Protection Act: Challenges and Opportunities,
in time for EPA’s deadline. The report found that EPA has “made
progress” in implementing the requirements of the FQPA, but that
OPP has primarily measured its success and the impact of FQPA by adherence
to its registration schedule rather than by reductions in risk to children’s
health. It went on to say that the “measures used by OPP generally
indicate actions taken, instead of environmental or human health outcomes
achieved.” Whether this is because OPP is less focused and interested
in keeping track of human health outcomes is unclear, as is the degree
to which it has been engaged in achieving such outcomes.
On August 2, the New York Times reported on recent actions of Unions
representing 9000 of EPA’s own staff scientists, “We are
concerned that the agency has not, consistent with its principles of
scientific integrity and sound science, adequately summarized or drawn
conclusions” about the chemcials. The EPA scientists, also charge
that EPA's Administrator is willfully ignoring evidence that "pesticides
damage the developing nervous systems of fetuses, infants and children,"
and are calling on EPA to cancel the registrations of 20 pesticides
in the organophosphate and carbamate chemical family. See May
24, 2006 letter by EPA scientists.
"EPA's pesticide program allows corporate chemical company interests
to trump science, putting the public and environment in harm's way,"
said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a national
public interest group.
and other environmental and public health organizations identify a series
in EPA's review of pesticides, calling into question the safety
of commonly used products.
EPA plans to complete reregistration eligibility decisions for the remaining
47 non-food use pesticide reregistration cases by October 3, 2008, as
required by the 2004 amendments to FIFRA contained in the Pesticide
Registration Improvement Act (PRIA).