PANNA: DBCP trail update; Dow PR coming to town; Peruvians ban GMO’s; Toddlers poisoned; State IPM policies report; and more…


A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives

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DBCP trail update; Dow PR coming to town; Peruvians ban GMO’s; Toddlers poisoned; State IPM policies report; and more…

July 26, 2007

U.S. lawsuits over DBCP contamination of workers: The first trial on behalf of Nicaraguan banana plantation workers who claim they became sterile after exposure to DBCP commenced in Los Angeles last week (PANUPS July 12). Dole Foods, United Fruit, Dow Chemical and Monsanto are charged with knowingly exposing the workers to the dangerous pesticide. The Los Angeles Times reports, “At every step, the case has been marked by intrigue. Attorneys have been accused of fraud, and Nicaraguan workers have held hunger strikes…. top Dole officials have met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to offer the possibility of jobs if the country made changes to its legal system that would make it more difficult to sue…. An Occidental Petroleum Corp. subsidiary mixed DBCP with other ingredients at its factory in Lathrop, Calif. Then in 1977, about three dozen workers at the plant were proven to be sterile in medical tests. Six sued, winning a $4.9-million judgment against Dow.” See this narrated LA Times slideshow on pesticide use in Nicaragua.

Dow greenwashing: Blue Planet Run is an ambitious project to raise awareness and fund projects to provide clean drinking water to millions. Launched in New York June 1, the globe-circling relay through 16 countries features 20 runners from all over the world. Ironically, the Run’s “presenting sponsor” (to the tune of $10 million) is Dow Chemical. Dow’s contribution is transparent “re-branding” public relations, aligned with its “Human Element” advertising campaign, presenting the corporation as one that cares about people, the environment and human rights. The Dow Accountability Network (DAN) is inviting people to tell the truth about Dow, to show up at key locations as the run returns to the U.S. August 1 in San Francisco, and crosses the country back to New York on Sept. 4. Read more to get involved.

Dow attempting to transfer Bhopal liability: According to documents obtained by the Times of India, Ratan Tata, a leading Indian industrialist and head of the Indo-US business council, has offered to “to take up ‘remediation’ — in plain words, cleaning up — of the Union Carbide plant site” in Bhopal. The Times reported on June 20, 2007 that Tata’s offer “has been picked up by the [Prime Ministers’ Office] and top ministries to find a way out for Dow”. Indian activists are saying that if demands that Dow clean up Bhopal are settled out of court, Dow won’t be held responsible for compensating the “indirect victims” of the Bhopal disaster–residents left with out clean drinking water. 

Peruvians say “no” to GMO potatoes: Farmers and residents of the Cusco region of Peru have passed an ordinance restricting the transport and production of genetically modified potatoes and other crops. The Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (ANDES) reports, “The decision of the regional government of Cusco… has the intention to protect the genetic diversity of thousands of native varieties of potatoes and other native crops, prohibiting the entrance of exotic transgenic crops to the region as well as the sale, growth and transport of all GM crops.” ANDES noted that the decree demonstrates recognition of the historical, cultural, social, ecological and economic importance of the potato in this region, as well as respect for the cultural values, health and environment of Cusco, the oldest continuously inhabited city of the Americas.

Texas toddler dies from pesticide poisoning: Five family members became ill and a two year old Lubbock girl died after being exposed to Phostoxin, a PAN “Bad Actor” chemical that is acutely toxic. Phostoxin is regularly used for pest control in grain silos, but is illegal for residential use. A pesticide applicator used the fatal pellets to rid the family’s home of roaches. Read more.

Virginia children sprayed with toxic weed killer: A NaturChem train-mounted weed sprayer treating railroad track accidentally doused children playing outside a daycare center near the tracks with glyphosate (RoundUp), triclopyr and imazapyr–an acute eye irritant. According to the Bristol News, “The children…suffered rashes, eye irritation and diarrhea after they were exposed.” “‘From what I’ve been hearing and what I know from my experience, this could be a major violation of the Virginia Pesticide Control Act,” said Jim Hartlage, pesticide investigator in Wytheville for the Virginia Department of Agriculture.’…In 2004, NatureChem reached a settlement with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture after being assessed a fine of $194,200 for 809 violations.”

Pregnant women exposed to pesticides at higher risk from gestational diabetes: A new study demonstrates that women who mix and apply pesticides when pregnant have double the risk of manifesting diabetes. Environmental Health News reports on data collected by the long-term U.S. Agriculture Health Study: “more than 11,200 women between the ages of 16 and 49 met this study’s criteria regarding pregnancies that occurred within the past 25 years. The mothers self reported pesticide use in their first trimester of pregnancy and if they were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during their most recent pregnancy.” The chemicals 2,4,5-T; 2,4,5-TP; atrazine, diazinon, phorate and carbofuran were most commonly associated with the diabetes occurrence.

Thousands exposed in toxic train crash: Fifteen tanker cars containing phosphorus, used for making fertilizers and pesticides, overturned and caught fire sending a toxic cloud over a 35 square mile area in the western Ukraine near the Polish border. Over 16,000 people were sent to hospitals to be checked for harm from toxic chemical exposure. Associated Press reports.

New report on state IPM policies: Ending Toxic Dependency: The State of IPM, a July 25 report by Beyond Pesticides, assesses state-level policies on Integrated Pest Management and finds an alarming dearth of meaningful state program nationwide. It highlights ten states with policies while noting “only four states call for pesticide reduction and alternatives that do not rely on toxic chemicals in their IPM law.” Co-author and Beyond Pesticides executive director Jay Feldman said that, “The toxic and petroleum-based pesticides are not needed and it’s wrong for states to do nothing or fall short of their responsibility to health and the environment.”

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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