PANNA: DDT fight continues, Organophosphate comments closes, Environmental justice as an election issue, and more



A Weekly News Update on Pesticides, Health and Alternatives

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DDT fight continues, Organophosphate comments closes, Environmental justice as an election issue, and more

October 5, 2006

DDT Controversy at World Health Organization grows: Public health advocates are questioning the internal process that led to the September 15th announcement by WHO promoting widespread indoor spraying of DDT for malaria control in Africa. A letter demanding an investigation was sent to government representatives on the WHO Executive Board by PAN International, representing concerns of PAN members in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America. Interpress news service reports how health and chemical experts reacted at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety in Budapest by calling into question WHO’s alleged “clean bill of health” for DDT use. Meanwhile, scientists in Uganda are questioning the effectiveness of DDT in their country. According to a report in New Vision in Kampala, a local malaria expert noted that, “although DDT helped the U.S. and Europe eliminate malarial mosquitoes, that type of malaria was directly linked to the length and intensity of the rainy season, when mosquitoes are active. In Uganda,” he said, “malaria is endemic because it rains throughout the year thus it would be a mistake to apply the same formula here.”

EPA organophosphate comment period closes: Under the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was mandated by Congress to review dozens of the most harmful chemicals used for producing food. EPA’s mandate was to conclude with “reasonable certainty” that “no harm” will come to infants, children, or other sensitive individuals exposed to pesticides. When the deadline to complete the ten year review arrived August 3rd, the Agency announced proposed re-registration of dangerous orghanophosphate (OP) pesticides, with public comment allowed until October 2. Many scientists and public health professionals are charging that EPA’s scientific credibility and rigor has been severely undermined by political and industry influence. The Agency’s own staff scientists claim that politically appointed EPA administrators are colluding with the pesticide industry and approving neurotoxic OPs without adequate scientific review. The staff scientists have written that, “Until EPA can state with scientific confidence that these pesticides will not hurt the neurological development of our nation’s born and unborn children, there is no justification to continue the registration of the use of the remaining OP and carbamate pesticides.” PAN North America and the Farm Worker Pesticide Project (Washington)–together with groups across the nation–submitted technical comments that detail how EPA’s action would leave farmworkers and children at serious risk. News Target has more on this story.

Huge peoples’ protest against Coca Cola and Pepsi’s dirty practices: Over a thousand villagers protested at Coca-Cola’s north India headquarters on Oct 4, demanding that the company take immediate actions to clean up its toxic production process and stop depleting rural water sources in India. Protests against Coca Cola’s practices have spread to the U.S. where several universities are seriously considering banning the company’s products from their campuses. Read about the demands of the people from the village of Mehdiganj and about the U.S. campaign against Coca-Cola. See India Resource Center for more.

Environmental justice bill introduced: U.S Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is in a close November re-election race with his Republican challenger, last week introduced the Environmental Protection for Children Act. Menendez says he wants to focus on “the greater vulnerability of children to environmental pollutants.” The bill “tightens the federal programs that regulate hazardous chemicals and environmental pollutants, requires manufacturers of children’s products to publish lists of potentially harmful substances in their products, provide grants for testing schools and day care centers for contamination and cleaning up any potential sources of pollution, and encourage states to enact laws ensuring that schools and day care centers are not opened on contaminated sites.” Read more.

Residents protest methyl bromide application: Neighbors close to a strawberry farm in Moss Landing, California, protested a farmer’s application to apply ozone-depleting neurotoxicant fumigant methyl bromide near their housing development. The outcry forced strawberry farmer Javier Manriquez of San Juan Berry Farms to withdraw his application and move the location of his strawberry crop further away from the homes, which eliminates the state requirement that he notify residents. Methyl bromide is slated for a global phase-out under the international Montreal Protocol, and is being reevaluated under U.S. EPA’s fumigant cluster assessment.

California enacts first state biomonitoring law: Led by the Breast Cancer Fund and Commonweal, environmental health advocates celebrated the passage of historic legislation to track toxic chemicals in our bodies. Despite having vetoed a similar bill a year ago, upon signing this act Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commented, “There are literally thousands of chemicals being used in our everyday products in the United States, if it is cleaning supplies, if it is pesticides or if it is makeup products that we are using. The list goes on and on and on.“ California will have the first state-supported biomonitoring program in the U.S. It may be implemented as early as 2007, and includes funding for community based monitoring of specific chemicals, assessed and reviewed by a scientific panel. One of the state senators who sponsored the bill, Deborah Ortiz, offers this report.

October is Fair Trade month: With the holidays approaching, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that how we spend our money can be one of the most powerful activist tools we can use. For Halloween, Global Exchange has prepared a Fair Trade Trick or Treat action kit, with lots of valuable information on how to make a difference with your shopping.

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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