A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information.
August 23, 2007
Dow Chemical accused of bribing officials in India: On August 21, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided Dow Chemical offices in seven locations due to allegations that the corporation was "allegedly paying bribes to key Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee... officials to obtain license for the marketing of its insecticide products in India," reports the Hindustan Times. Dow Chemical, having bought 100% of Union Carbide, continues to deny liability for ongoing pollution in Bhopal, India, and continuing illness of tens of thousands who were contaminated when Union Carbide's pesticide plant exploded in 1984. Read more about Dow's contamination in the U.S. and Central America, its production of dangerous herbicides and pesticides such as Agent Orange and chlorpyrifos, and its greenwashing sponsorship of the Blue Planet Run charity event.
European Union toughens pesticide regulations: The pesticide industry and some farmer trade groups are raising concerns over EU Commission consideration of increased pesticide regulations, and the trade groups are stepping up lobbying to resist EU efforts to further reduce pesticide use. Mitigations being considered include substantial buffer zones, notification rules, restrictions on aerial spraying and spraying near waterways and reducing use of the most toxic chemicals by 50% by 2013. Read more about the EU proposals on pesticide regulations.
WHO to push for bednets; Kenya will not use DDT: The World Health Organization announced it would move forward with broad distribution of insecticide treated bednets (ITNs) for malaria control in Africa. "Data from Kenya ends the debate about how to deliver long-lasting insecticidal nets," said Arata Kochi, head of the WHO's Global Malaria Program, according to the WHO news release. The WHO decision came in part due to a new study in Kenya showing a dramatic decrease in malaria with ITNs. "Kenya's Director of Medical services, Dr James Nyikal ...said Kenya would not resort to the use of DDT to conduct indoor residual spraying to eliminate the vector," according to the East African Standard.
Dow knew DBCP was linked to sterility: Arguments continue in the first of five cases against Monsanto, Dow Chemical, United Fruit and Dole being tried in Los Angeles. The pesticide and food companies are accused of knowingly exposing banana plantation workers to a pesticide that attorneys say made them sterile. Court testimony confirms that Dow knew about the sterility effects of its DBCP, banned in the U.S. in the 1970's. CBS2 news reports, "Questioned by the men's attorney... [Paul] Sink [former Dole vice president] acknowledged that Dow had linked the chemical to sterility in an American manufacturing plant where the pesticide was made." Read more.
Chemicals industry disregards U.S. public health: Mark Schapiro has documented that some corporations make two lines of products - one that meets the stronger European Union chemical regulations, and less safe products for the more lax U.S. regulatory atmosphere. His new book, Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products (Chelsea Green Publishing) contradicts the industry messaging that halting use of phthalates and other harmful chemicals will hurt the economy. AlterNet presents an interview with Schapiro, who is editorial director of the Center for Investigative Reporting and, with David Weir, author of the groundbreaking book Circle or Poison: Pesticides and People in a Hungry World (Food First, 1981).
U.S. Senate hears testimony on environmental racism: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works considered environmental racism in a July 25 hearing on "Oversight of the EPA's Environmental Justice Programs". One panel witness, Sheila Holt-Orsted, described how EPA toxic water contamination regulations were enforced differently in her Tennessee community for Blacks than for Whites. The Louisiana Weekly reports, "Three generations of her family have become ill because of the toxic wastes, including her father Harry, who died from cancer in January.... Holt-Orsted and her relatives are seeking redress in court."
Pesticide contamination pervasive: Obsolete Pesticides: The Side of the World We Do Not Know is a video exposing the terrible contamination from obsolete pesticide stockpiles in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The International HCP and Pesticides Association declares, "..poor people in the countryside live on top or next to the most dangerous and forbidden pesticides. Their food is infested by these pesticides and their children and cattle roam around at these places...." The problem of obsolete pesticides stockpiles is also particularly acute in Africa, and the focus of long-term work by PAN, WWF and others.
Back to the future for replacing fumigants: Subramanyam Bhadriraju, professor of grain science and industry at Kansas State University, was looking for a way to replace methyl bromide -- the ozone-depleting fumigant pesticide slated for international phase-out under the Montreal Protocol. The neurotoxic pesticide has been used extensively by mill operators to prevent infestation of stored grain. Before methyl bromide, mill operators used heat treatment, a method that does not deplete the ozone or emit chemical contaminants that put public health and the environment at risk. The High Plains Journal reports, "Heat treatment involves raising the ambient temperature of an entire mill or a portion of it to 122 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and holding these high temperatures for 24 hours or less. The treatment can be done with electric, steam or gas heat...." PAN is asking the public to sign a petition to the EPA to phase out methyl bromide and other fumigant pesticides. Click here to take action.