Coincidence or Collusion? Records Show EPA Slowed Glyphosate Review in Coordination With Monsanto

GR: The case for collusion looks stronger than the one for coincidence. This story makes one think of our lying president and the fear that the lies and corruption by our government will begin to seem normal and acceptable. We definitely need to drain the swamp, and I want to start seeing that Progressives include all the means by which private companies influence government in their platforms. What the story by Carey Gilliam, introduced below, shows is that for-profit businesses and the government employees/agencies they influence are willing to support deadly weed herbicides with little regard for human and ecosystem health. The EPA, USDA, and everyone involved needs to advocate safer means of weed control.

“Newly released government email communications show a persistent effort by multiple officials within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slow a separate federal agency’s safety review of Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide. Notably, the records demonstrate that the EPA efforts came at the behest of Monsanto, and that EPA officials were helpful enough to keep the chemical giant updated on their progress.

“The communications, most of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, show that it was early 2015 when the EPA and Monsanto began working in concert to stall a toxicology review that a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was conducting on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide products. The details revealed in the documents come as Monsanto is defending itself against allegations that it has tried to cover up evidence of harm with its herbicides.

“The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency within the CDC that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is charged with evaluating the potential adverse human health effects from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. So it made sense for the ATSDR to take a look at glyphosate, which is widely used on U.S. farms, residential lawns and gardens, school playgrounds and golf courses. Glyphosate is widely used in food production and glyphosate residues have been found in testing of human urine.

“The ATSDR announced in February 2015 that it planned to publish a toxicological profile of glyphosate by October of that year. But by October, that review was on hold, and to this date no such review has yet been published.

“The documents reveal this was no accident, no bureaucratic delay, but rather was the result of a collaborative effort between Monsanto and a group of high-ranking EPA officials.” –Carey Gilliam (Continue reading: Collusion or Coincidence? Records Show EPA Slowed Glyphosate Review in Coordination With Monsanto.)

Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Corrupt USDA

GR: Corrupt interaction between U. S. government agencies and pesticide manufacturers poisons people, pets, plants, and wildlife. This has been true in the past, but there is a looming flash flood release of toxic chemicals under Trump.

“Internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Administrator Scott Pruitt has effectively relinquished the EPA’s oversight of pesticide safety to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) senior vice president of government affairs.

“More than 700 pages of emails and other records show that Pruitt and other EPA officials consulted closely with agribusiness interests and top officials at the USDA on the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to harm children’s brains at even very low levels, according to The New York Times.

“In response to the Times report, the EPA issued a statement Monday maintaining that Pruitt relied on the “USDA’s scientific concerns with methodology used by the previous administration” to go against the agency’s own scientists who had pushed for a full ban of the pesticide.

“The emails, on page 301, show that top political appointees made edits to the chlorpyrifos petition as it awaited Pruitt’s signature, in order to reverse the ban of the pesticide recommended by career EPA scientists.” –Environmental Working Group (Continue reading: Pruitt’s EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Agriculture Department).

EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

GR: Our government believes its responsibility is to corporations and not to citizens. We really need to find and elect politicians that do not hold this belief. Pesticides are destroying pollinators and all the plants and animals that depend upon them. How can an “environmental protection agency” approve their use? What this shows is how easily corporations buy our president and his minions.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris and President Donald Trump in February.

“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company’s toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

“According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency’s own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.

“But EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman insisted to the AP that Pruitt and Liveris were only “briefly introduced” at the energy industry conference where both men were featured speakers.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” the spokeswoman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

[GR: Lying perhaps, but never mind; the pesticide needs to be banned.]

“According to the AP, Pruitt also attended a larger group meeting with two other Dow executives, but Bowman said they did not discuss the pesticide.

“The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Pesticide Action Network and Earthjustice sued the EPA just days after Pruitt’s decision to reverse the EPA’s proposed ban on chlorpyrifos.

“The move adds to the Trump administration’s growing roster of decisions informed by ‘alternative facts,'” the NRDC’s Nicole Greenfield wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. “Nearly two decades’ worth of scientific studies—including analyses by Pruitt’s own agency—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics also sent a letter to Pruitt on Tuesday, urging the EPA to ban the pesticide and called the agency’s decision to allow its use a threat to children’s health.

“A lot has been reported about Dow’s seemingly close ties with Trump. The company donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration. Additionally, Liveris leads President Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received Trump’s pen after he signed the “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that the administration claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.” –Lorraine Chow (EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide)

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.

GR:  Trump’s head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a corporate shill who’s been placed in charge of limiting corporate excesses. Of course, people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems will suffer.

Pgian/iStock

“On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,” reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. “An additional twelve workers did not show signs of any symptoms,” the station reported. “However more than half of the farm workers left before medical aide arrived.”

“Public health authorities took the poisoning quite seriously. “Anybody that was exposed, that was here today, we encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait. Particularly if you’re suffering from any symptoms. Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, said in an announcement to the TV station.

“According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos. A spokeswoman for the Kern County Department of Public Health said the department assumes chlorpyrifos was the active ingredient in the pesticide in question, but the matter is still under investigation by the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards. A spokesman for that office said test results pinpointing the chemical are pending but would not be done for at least a week. Dow AgroSciences, one of the main makers of the chemical, did not respond to phone calls and emails.

“Many public health experts, scientists, and environmentalists have for years been pushing for a ban on chlorpyrifos, and last year it was looking like the Environmental Protection Agency intended to instate one. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure to the chemical through inhalation can cause initial symptoms like “tearing of the eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production, nausea, dizziness and headache,” followed by possible “muscle twitching, weakness or tremors, lack of coordination, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and pupil constriction with blurred or darkened vision.” Chlorpyrifos is an endocrine disrupter, and major studies (here, here, and here) have found strong evidence to suggest that even at very low doses, the chemical triggers effects among children ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. More here.

“But in March, the EPA abruptly changed its stance on chlorpyrifos, greenlighting it instead of banning it. The decision, among the first major ones made by Scott Pruitt in his tenure as EPA chief, caused outrage in public health circles. Dow AgroSciences applauded the decision. “Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,” the company declared in a press release.” –Tom Philpott (More: Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers. | Mother Jones.)