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Daily News Blog

09
Aug

Biden EPA Must Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Poisoning

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2021) What’s going on at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Last month, Bayer/Monsanto announced it would voluntarily cancel “residential lawn and garden” uses of glyphosate products, “exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” EPA has done virtually nothing to restrict glyphosate/Roundup since the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic. It is now expected, as with other voluntary cancellations, that EPA will make no health or environmental findings that could affect other uses (e.g., agricultural) of glyphosate, but will accept the action by Bayer/Monsanto. The company refers to its action as “risk mitigation”—that’s risk to the company’s profitability, economic viability, and shareholder investment, not public health or environmental protection. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, offering a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing.

The Biden administration began with high hopes for the environment. Combating climate change is a priority. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive memorandum, Modernizing Regulatory Review, that appears to establish a new framework supporting healthy people and ecosystems, as it directs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.

But what’s happening at EPA? The announced voluntary cancellation of glyphosate products highlights EPA’s failure to correct dangerous decisions made under the Trump administration. EPA has not corrected actions on chlorpyrifos, atrazine, dicamba, or neonicotinoids that allow poisonings of humans, pollinators, and others to continue.

Tell EPA to stop allowing the pesticide industry free rein to regulate itself based on financial risks instead of the risks to health and environment that the law requires to drive decisions. 

A report by the Office of the Inspector General for EPA concludes that scientific analyses by the agency were altered so as to favor top Trump administration officials’ policy choices in the 2018 reapproval of the highly toxic and problematic pesticide, dicamba. The report, “EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision,” was publicly released on May 24. It confirms aspects of what Beyond Pesticides and many others in the science, advocacy, public health, and environmental communities have been saying and reporting since 2016: The Trump administration executed a wholesale assault on scientific integrity in federal decision-making. But where is the Biden EPA correction of the Trump policy?

An article in The Intercept reveals how far EPA’s credibility has slipped, in view of sloppy or corrupt science, a well-greased revolving door between EPA and the pesticide industry, responsiveness to political pressure from pesticide companies, and actions that lag behind other countries. If EPA is to fulfill its statutory responsibilities, it must reverse these realities, re-examine Trump-era decisions, and act on behalf of the public and the environment.

EPA must not continue to allow pesticide manufacturers to regulate themselves based on financial risk. While they may have been forced in courts to pay damages for certain uses—generally those where exposure to specific people can be proven—these same pesticides continue to harm others, from neighboring chemical-intensive and organic farmers, to those living near production plants and those with pre-existing conditions, to bees and frogs, to consumers. When a company seeks to voluntarily cancel uses of a pesticide, EPA should immediately suspend all registrations and begin cancellation proceedings for all uses.

Tell EPA to stop allowing the pesticide industry free rein to regulate itself based on financial risks instead of the risks to health and environment that the law requires to drive decisions.

Letter of EPA Administrator Michael Regan

I am writing to express profound disappointment with the Biden EPA’s record on pesticide regulation. Bayer/Monsanto just announced that it would voluntarily cancel “residential” uses of glyphosate products, “exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” If the past is prologue, EPA will accept Bayer’s voluntary cancellation of residential uses and make no findings that could affect other uses (e.g., agricultural) of glyphosate. The company refers to its action as “risk mitigation”—that’s risk to the company’s profitability, economic viability, and shareholder investment, not public health or environmental protection. Voluntary actions by the companies are highly compromised and do not include agency determinations or findings—allowing false claims of safety, a shield from liability, and unencumbered international marketing.

The administration began with high hopes for the environment. Combating climate change is a priority. On his first day in office, President Biden issued an executive order, “Modernizing Regulatory Review,” that appears to establish a new framework promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.

But what’s happening at EPA? EPA is allowing the pesticide industry free rein to regulate itself based on financial risks instead of the hazards to health and environment that the law requires to drive decisions. Accepting a voluntary cancellation without a rigorous review of the science and the threats will only serve to highlight EPA’s failure to correct dangerous decisions made under the Trump administration. EPA, to date, has not corrected actions on chlorpyrifos, atrazine, dicamba, or neonicotinoids that allow poisoning to continue.

A report by the Office of the Inspector General for EPA “EPA Deviated from its Typical Procedures in Its 2018 Dicamba Pesticide Registration Decision,” concludes that scientific analyses by the agency were altered to favor top Trump administration officials’ policy choices in the 2018 reapproval of the highly toxic and problematic pesticide dicamba, as the Trump administration executed a wholesale assault on scientific integrity in federal decision making. Where is the Biden EPA correction of Trump policy?

An article in The Intercept reveals how far EPA’s credibility has slipped, in view of sloppy or corrupt science, a well-greased revolving door between EPA and industry, responsiveness to political pressure from pesticide companies, and actions that lag behind other countries. If EPA is to fulfill its statutory responsibilities, it must reverse these trends, re-examine Trump-era decisions, and act on behalf of the public and the environment.

EPA must not continue to allow pesticide manufacturers to regulate themselves based on financial risk. While they may have been forced in the courts to pay damages for certain uses—generally those where exposure to specific humans can be proven—these same pesticides continue to harm others, from neighboring chemical-intensive and organic farmers, to those living near production plants and those with pre-existing conditions, to bees and frogs, to consumers. When a company seeks to voluntarily cancel uses of a pesticide, EPA should immediately suspend all registrations and begin cancellation proceedings for all uses.

Please take the following actions:

– Adopt conflict-of-interest policies that eliminate the revolving door between EPA and the pesticide industry.

– Re-examine Trump-era decisions to allow use of dangerous pesticides and act on behalf of the public and the environment.

– Stop the self-regulation of pesticide manufacturers based on financial risk. A proposal to voluntarily cancel uses of a pesticide should trigger immediate suspension and cancellation proceedings for all uses.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this critical public health and environmental issue.

Share

3 Responses to “Biden EPA Must Hold Pesticide Manufacturers Accountable for Poisoning”

  1. 1
    Robert Jordan Says:

    President Biiden, Please ban the use of these dangerous chemicals: glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, dicamba, the neonicotinoids, the synthetic pyrethroids, atrazine, and paraquat,

  2. 2
    Dennis Vogt Says:

    Our government/EPA should be taking giant steps toward encouraging organic growing and eliminating chemical weedkillers and pesticides which have caused so many serious health problems.

  3. 3
    Donna Chatel Says:

    Please stop allowing the pesticide industry free rein to regulate itself based on financial risks instead of the risks to health and environment that the law requires to drive decisions.
    i voted for you because i thought you were going to be true to your word to protect our environment.

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