PANNA: Court orders EPA to investigate pesticide harm, Pesticides lead in suicides, US obstructs treaties on toxics, and more



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Court orders EPA to investigate pesticide harm, Pesticides lead in suicides, US obstructs treaties on toxics, and more

September 14, 2006

EPA must study pesticides’ impact on California red-legged frog. The Center for Biological Diversity has won a settlement in a lawsuit it filed against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require the agency to involve the US Fish and Wildlife Service in a more thorough evaluation of the potential of certain pesticides to harm the California red-legged frog through drift or runoff into habitats. The settlement requires EPA to temporarily restrict the use of 66 pesticides that EPA’s own assessments indicate have potential to adversely affect the frogs. The suspected pesticides include atrazine, malathion, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, naled (used by FEMA to spray Katrina-affected areas), permethrin, and others. Brent Plater, an attorney with the center, told Associated Press, “The California Red-legged frog is an extraordinary sentinel of environmental health, so when frogs remain absent from an area despite the appearance of a functioning ecology, that may be a warning sign for our own health.” U.S. EPA has posted the settlement agreement and provided an opportunity for public comment, due before September 18th. PANNA’s Dr. Susan Kegley, an expert witness in the case, said, “This is a good first step toward solving the problem, but there is more to be done. EPA should also be monitoring air and water in endangered species habitats to better understand how pesticides might be transported there and in what quantities. Instead the agency relies on questionable models that do not incorporate all aspects of airborne pesticide drift to estimate likely exposures for the frog.
Unfortunately, they also use these same flawed assumptions in estimating human exposures, so we’re not treated so differently from the frogs.”

Pesticides a leading method for suicide. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that pesticides are among the most commonly used method used to commit suicide globally, and the leading method in several regions. WHO’s statement says, “Worldwide, an estimated three million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year, resulting in an excess of 250,000 deaths…. It is estimated that in the last decade between 60% and 90% of suicides in China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad were due to pesticide ingestion.” Many other countries in Asia, and Central and South America have also reported growing numbers of suicides from pesticide ingestion. In partnership with WHO, Brian Mishara from the International Association for Suicide Prevention issued the Report on the International Workshop on Secure Access to Pesticides in Conjunction with the Annual Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Read the report.

US obstructs treaties on toxic chemicals. Kristin Schafer, PANNA’s program coordinator for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), writes about the current obstructionist U.S. foreign policies on toxics in the journal Foreign Policy in Focus. Schafer addresses two key international agreements – the Stockholm Convention and the Rotterdam Convention – international treaties that aim to phase out the manufacture, trade, and use of some of the most dangerous chemicals on earth, including PAN’s Dirty Dozen Pesticides. “Most European countries are well ahead of the United States in embracing the precautionary principle in both domestic and international policies,” reports Schafer, who has been working with international coalitions to reduce the toxic poisons in our environment for over a decade.

School fundraiser links children to local farms. An innovative fundraising and educational project is netting money for schools and local farms in Michigan. Instead of selling candy or magazines, fourth graders at Central Lake Elementary school in Kalkaska, Michigan are selling local farm products such as jam, maple syrup and fresh apples to raise money for their school. Their class curriculum includes field trips and projects that engage children in farming and the business of producing food. Read more about how parent Pepper Bromelmeier organized this project that brings local farms and schools together for mutual benefit.

PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.

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