(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2010) We’re not Cockroaches, EPA. Tell Us What’s in that Toxic Spray! EPA is taking public comments on this important public health and environmental issue and your views are critical to the process. The agency has published a notice proposing the option of full disclosure of all ingredients in pesticide products, including those ithat have been claimed to be trade secrets and withheld from the public.
Take a close look at the fine print on a can of Raid, a bottle of Cutters, a jug of RoundUp, or virtually any pesticide on the market today, and you’ll see these words: “Inert ingredients.” Inert ingredients are the pesticide industry’s best-kept secret.
The Bad News
There are thousands of chemicals used as inerts in pesticides, and over the years we’ve discovered what some of them are. The truth is that many inert ingredients are neither chemically nor toxicologically inert. Some cause cancer, some cause genetic damage, some cause reproductive harm, and others cause a wide variety of other health problems.
For decades, EPA has routinely accepted the pesticide industry’s line that these ingredients are “confidential business information.” That’s a red herring. Pesticide companies can easily test their competitors’ products to find out what’s inside them. The reason that pesticide companies use the inert ingredient loophole is that they want to keep doctors, independent researchers, and you in the dark.
The Good News
The new, improved EPA recently announced that it is considering requiring pesticide companies to disclose inert ingredients. After years of advocacy by CEH and other organizations, the agency has decided that “revealing inert ingredients will help consumers make informed decisions and will better protect public health and the environment.”
This is the opportunity that health advocates have been awaiting for over 20 years.
The next step: until February 22, EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal, and you can play a vital role in this process.
Almost certainly, the pesticide industry will shout (and whine) from the rooftops that disclosing secret ingredients will hurt their business, stop innovation in the pesticide industry, make pesticides less effective, raise the price of lettuce to twenty bucks a head, and turn your house into a cockroach haven.
What You Can Do
To do the right thing, EPA needs your support. It’s crucial that the agency hear from you now to counter the self-serving and misleading pressure they’re getting from the pesticide industry. Please click here to read the letter organized by the Center for Environmental Health to EPA and add your name to it. We need to gather thousands of signatures, so please share this with all of your friends and family who care about health and the environment.
With your help, we can close the pesticide industry’s inert ingredient loophole. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss!
Beyond Pesticides has advocated for the disclosure of pesticide products’ inert ingredients for decades. For more information about pesticide ingredients, see Beyond Pesticides “What Is a Pesticide?” webpage. For background on EPA’s latest proposal, read Beyond Pesticides Daily News post, “Public Comment Needed for Inert Ingredient Disclosure Guidelines” (December 23, 2009) and “EPA Seeks to Disclose Hazardous Pesticide Inert Ingredients” (October 2, 2009).
This post was written by Caroline Cox, Beyond Pesticides board member and Research Director at Center for Environmental Health.