Lost in the chaotic news on Friday was the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reauthorize the use of atrazine. a herbicide common throughout the U.S., but banned in dozens of countries due to numerous concerns regarding birth defects and cancer.
Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity said that the “Use of this extremely dangerous pesticide should be banned, not expanded, this disgusting decision directly endangers the health of millions of Americans.”
Donley added that “This decision imperils the health of our children and the safety of drinking water supplies across much of the nation. No one will be left untouched by the bad decision the EPA just made.”
The decision probably won’t come as a shock to those who understand the Trump Administration’s penchant for doing the opposite of what’s right. Still, it’s this type of choice that keeps faith in government institutions at all-time lows.
Not that anyone is paying attention. Media coverage on the EPA’s decision is virtual nonexistent. Atrazine is the second most used pesticide in the United States as 70 million pounds are sprayed every year, affecting millions of people. You’d think it would garner a little attention.
The Administrator of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, called the final interim decision “another example of the Trump administration taking action in support of America’s farmers.” While environmental critics called out the agency for rejecting safeguards mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, Democrats are yet to make a statement.
The Center for Biological Diversity did release a statement however, it read as follows:
“The EPA also reduced the protection factor it uses to convert toxicity levels observed in rat and mouse studies to levels considered safe for humans. The more permissive benchmark relies solely on a model developed by the primary manufacturer of atrazine, Syngenta.
Had the correct standards been used, atrazine uses on lawns and turf would likely have been cancelled due to unacceptable harms to children. In today’s decision the agency is only proposing a modest reduction in application rate for turf.
The re-approval also weakens environmental safeguards put in place in 2006 to protect aquatic life from harmful atrazine exposure, a move that will increase the amount of atrazine allowed in waterways across the United States.”
Atrazine is used primarily on corn, but also on other crops. It is used on golf courses, Christmas tree farms, and in residential landscaping. Because the runoff washes the chemical into streams, rivers, and groundwater, it’s one of the most common pollutants found in American waters.
Despite all the evidence, the Trump Administration prefers to allow atrazine manufacturers to call the shots. A continuing Republican/libertarian free market experiment that will poison Americans for years to come.
The “EPA admits that atrazine is harmful to multiple species,” said Sylvia Wu, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “Under federal pesticide law, EPA is required to review and ensure that older pesticides do not harm humans or cause unreasonable adverse effects to the environment. Rather than meeting that obligation, EPA has allowed atrazine use to continue by relying on weak mitigation measures and voluntary industry programs.”
Without a statement, it’s hard to tell what a Biden White House would do, if anything, to counter what Trump’s EPA has done here. The American government’s reckless tendency to put profit over people started well before Trump, and will continue well after he’s gone.
A big thank you to Commondreams.org for covering the story