Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
See PANUPS updates service, for complete information. A Vote Against Pesticides
October 28, 2004
Although pesticide issues specifically, and environmental issues generally, are not in the foreground of this year’s U.S. Presidential debates, they should be. Virtually every major U.S. environmental organization has denounced the current administration’s environmental record. The Sierra Club describes it as “the most aggressively anti-environmental administration in U.S. history,” and the National Resources Defense Council declared President Bush guilty of “more than 300 crimes against nature.”
To the many issues of environmental protection, public health and social justice voters could consider in next week’s election, we add this review of several recent pesticide-related decisions by federal agencies and administrative offices.
No Lindane Ban Means Higher Exposures In and Outside the U.S.
In late September 2004 the North American Regional Task Force on Lindane met in Montreal, where Canada and Mexico both signaled a willingness to ban this insecticide that persists in the environment and poses a threat to people and wildlife in the Artic. Lindane is banned in 52 countries, restricted in 33 others, and is a strong candidate for a worldwide ban under the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants. At the Task Force meeting the U.S. delegation parted company with Canada and Mexico, and refused to consider a ban. (See PANUPS October 4, 2004 http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20041004.dv.html)
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Undermined
The POPs treaty came into force in May 2004. Designed to eliminate a class of dangerous chemicals that are toxic, travel long distances, persist in the environment, and build up the food chain, it has been ratified by more than 100 nations, but the U.S. is not among them. U.S. ratification legislation is stuck in Congress because Republicans legislators and the Administration want the EPA to decide which of the treaty’s bans to enforce and which to ignore. (See PANUPS March 24, 2004 http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20040324.dv.html)
Montreal Protocol Sabotaged; U.S. Methyl Bromide Use May Increase
In April 2004 the U.S. delivered a demand that essentially broke the bank of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. At the first ever “Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties,” the U.S. requested a whopping 9,500 tons of so called “critical use” exemptions for methyl bromide for 2005, an increase in use that comprises fully 70% of exemptions worldwide. Confronted with such blatant backpedaling, other nations stepped up their requests for exemptions, weakening one of the most successful international environmental agreements on record. (See PANUPS, April 5, 2004 http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20040405.dv.html)
Endangered Species Act in Danger
In late July 2004 the Administration adopted new rules allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to perform pesticide reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) without consulting U.S. wildlife agencies (i.e. the Fish and Wildlife Services and NOAA Fisheries). This is contrary to the ESA, and sidelines the wildlife scientists with most expertise on wildlife issues. EPA has failed to protect wildlife from pesticides in other areas as well, as highlighted in the April 2004 court decision severely limiting use of 38 pesticides near creeks and streams in the in Pacific Northwest because levels harmful to salmon are routinely found in region’s waterways. (See PANUPS May 28, 2004 http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20040529.dv.html and PANUPS: February 2, 2004 http://www.panna.org/resources/panups/panup_20040202.dv.html)
More Moves to Gut National Organic Standards
In April of 2004 the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued four directives that seriously compromised the department’s National Organic Program. These changes would have allowed, among other things, use of antibiotics on organic dairy cows and some synthetic pesticides on organic farms, and were made with no public comment or advice from the National Organic Standards Board, the advisory group that helped to develop the federal organic standards. Following sustained outcry from outraged consumers and the organic and sustainable agriculture communities, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman was forced to rescind the new directives in late May. (Organic Trade Association, May 26, 2004, http://www.ota.com.)
We urge all PANUPs readers who are eligible to vote in next Tuesday’s U.S. elections to consider what kind of environmental health and justice policies you want, and ensure your voice is heard by voting with all the information in hand!
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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