A report released by the Center for Biological Diversity reveals that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows the use of unapproved pesticides in the case of an emergency. The term emergency is defined in the dictionary as an unforeseen combination of circumstances. Looking at the instances of emergency approval from the EPA though, it’s clear the agency does not see it the same way. This loophole allows farmers to use deliberately unapproved or untested pesticides often without a public review or comment process, deliberating bypassing environmental and safety concerns.
It’s disgusting to see the EPA’s broken pesticide program bending over backward to appease the pesticide industry. These exemptions put people and wildlife at tremendous risk because they allow poisons to be applied in ways that would otherwise be illegal.” – Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney in the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program
The report particularly highlights sulfoxaflor, a pesticide that was banned for killing bees while still being approved for 78 emergency approvals over the past six years and affecting more than 17.5 million acres of farmland. This pesticide had actually been approved for spraying on cotton, but that approval was canceled by a judge in 2015. That reversal didn’t stop sulfoxaflor from being sprayed on cotton and bee-favorite sorghum through the emergency approval program. The EPA has yet to examine the effect this program has had on pollinators, though that isn’t anything we didn’t know.
One of the conditions for the approval of an emergency pesticide petition is “loss of pesticide,” wither through insects developing resistance or regulatory agencies canceling the pesticide. This is also known as the EPA doing its job. Yet the agency is more than willing to undermine its previous decisions and credibility. When will we be left with the bill for these shortcuts…or has it already arrived.
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- EPA Allowing Widespread Use of Unapproved Pesticides, Study Finds – EcoWatch
- Poisonous Process – Biologically Diversity
- Decision to Register the Insecticide Sulfoxaflor with Limited Uses and Pollinator Protective Requirements – EPA