A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
January 18, 2007
PAN asking for comments to EPA on chloropicrin: Chloropicrin is a PAN "Bad Actor" fumigant pesticide used in agricultural to sterilize the soil before planting. It is often mixed with methyl bromide, another fumigant pesticide that causes depletion of the ozone layer, because unlike methyl bromide it has a strong tear gas odor. Chloropicrin can cause short-term skin and respiratory irritations, and long-term respiratory health problems. On October 5th, 2005, sixty people, including the emergency personnel who came to rescue them, were sickened by a chloropicrin cloud that had drifted a quarter mile from a strawberry field in Salinas, California. EPA has opened a public comment period on chloropicrin. PANNA is asking people who live or work near agricultural areas to tell EPA their experiences and concerns with this dangerous chemical being used in their community. Comments must be received no later than January 29th. Click here to find out how to submit comments. Read more about fumigant pesticides.
National Research Council blasts White House risk assessment guidelines: Risk assessment is the analysis of risk posed to people or the environment from products. Chemicals, food, and consumer products, including pesticides and drugs, are assessed by various regulatory agencies on their relative risks. The White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB) issued a draft bulletin for technical standards for risk assessment guidelines. The National Research Council of the National Academies, asked to review the bulletin by OMB, has called it "fundamentally flawed" and wants it withdrawn. The Council says the OMB bulletin "…ignores a fundamental public health goal to control exposures well before they cause functional impairment." The complete Scientific Review of the Proposed Risk Assessment Bulletin from the Office of Management and Budget can be purchased from the National Academies Press. The National Research Council report was sponsored by scientists and staffs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Labor; and NASA.
Wisconsin seeks approval of dangerous pesticide: The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has proposed to allow "off label" use of "Dual Magnum," a pesticide made by Syngenta that is suspected of being carcinogenic and linked to endocrine disruption. Metolachlor is the key active ingredient in Dual Magnum. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has determined there is no need for an environmental impact report, despite concern about aquatic toxicity. Thus the agency is allowing farmers growing a wide range of vegetables to use it without further research. Crops range from asparagus, broccoli and cabbage to onions, beets and spinach. Wisconsin citizens have until January 25th to submit public comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Read more.
California's Department of Pesticide Regulations will increase oversight of pesticides: California DPR issued details last week about how it will apply a $3 million budget increase to stronger enforcement of pesticide regulations. Los Angeles Times reporter Marla Cone writes that a crackdown on collecting fees on wholesale pesticide fees from big-box retailers—including with Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Costco—has provided the additional funding. Mary-Ann Warmerdam, DPR director, pledged, "With this support, we'll aim for zero no more major pesticide incidents on the farm or in urban settings." DPR also plans to renew a program of awards to farmers switching to safer alternatives. "They are doing a pretty good job of putting the money where people think there is the most need for it," says Dr. Susan Kegley, senior scientist at PANNA. "Some things need to change in the way that people are applying pesticides if we are to get to zero incidents. We think the best way is to reduce pesticide use overall," Kegley added.
"Who Owns Organic" map updated: With major food processing corporations wanting to profit from the lucrative market in organic foods, here's a map that identifies the top 25 companies and the brands they've bought or introduced. A few examples of 2006 activity: Anhueser-Busch bought Stone Mill and Hershey bought Dagoba; and Kraft and Kellogg introduced their own organic lines. Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State, created the map in 2002 and updates organic food business charts for The Cornucopia Institute -- a group dedicated to economic justice for family farms.