The Protect America’s Children From Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020, introduced on Tuesday by Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat of Colorado, would overhaul the nation’s framework for regulating the sale and use of pesticides to safeguard public health and the environment, the legislators said in a press call with a panel of experts.
Current regulations are based on outdated science and contain loopholes that keep dangerous pesticides on the market despite clear evidence of harm to people and the environment, they said. “Our nation’s system for regulating harmful pesticides is broken and badly outdated,” said Sen. Udall. The system was meant to protect farmers and agricultural workers, consumers and the environment, he said. “But it’s not. It’s protecting the pesticide industry.”
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) governs how pesticides are sold and used through registration and labeling requirements. Pesticide manufacturers must show that their product, if used properly, will not cause “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.” The EPA is charged with ensuring that they do so.
Yet since pesticide regulations were last updated a quarter century ago, scientists have discovered that many pesticides on the market cause a range of neurodevelopmental effects and are likely contributing to the catastrophic decline of the bees that pollinate the nation’s crops.
The EPA has wide latitude in deciding whether to ban a dangerous pesticide, Sen. Udall said. “And the EPA has been coming down on the side of industry profits and against the health of our children, farmworkers, families and the environment.”
Rep. Neguse’s district in Colorado includes top experts in organic and regenerative agriculture, he said. “And for years, these experts have been warning us of the dangers posed by the profit-driven pesticide regulation and oversight system as it exists today.”
Once pesticides are approved in this system, they often remain on the market for decades, Rep. Neguse said, “even when scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that a pesticide is causing harm to people or the environment.”
Successful Farming, 5 August 2020