The Trump Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are facing three new lawsuits regarding recently amended practices regarding the use of certain pesticides which have been linked to cancer.
(AP) — A coalition of conservation and public health groups have filed suit against the Trump Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accusing the federal government of foregoing an assessment of a pesticide known to have harmful health effects, as well as suspending training for pesticide handlers. The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health and Californians for Pesticide Reform filed suit against the EPA head, Scott Pruitt, accusing him of failing to protect endangered wildlife and the environment by abandoning a safety assessment of the pesticide malathion.
The lawsuit claims the EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have failed to complete their legal mandate to assess and limit the dangers of malathion. According to the World Health Organization, malathion is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“Its deplorable that the Trump administration is putting human health and endangered wildlife at risk to please Dow,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump and Pruitt aren’t above the law and they have to take reasonable steps to limit the harms of this dangerous pesticide.”
In January 2017, the EPA reported a biological evaluation found that 97 percent of federally protected species are likely harmed by malathion. This means nearly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act are likely to be harmed by malathion, as well as another common pesticide known as chlorpyrifos. The evaluation also found that another 78 percent of endangered plants and animals are likely to be hurt by the pesticide diazinon.
“It is unacceptable to ignore the range of well-documented dangers with this outdated class of organophosphate pesticides,” said Sarah Aird, co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform. “Malathion is one of the most dangerous pesticides still available on the market.” The neurotoxin is part of the class of organophosphate pesticides used as a nerve agent in chemical warfare.
The other two lawsuits focus on the agency’s indefinite suspension of a training mandate designed to help pesticide handlers learn proper handling measures and avoid accidental poisoning while on the job. Critics of the suspension argue that the measure will hurt the poorest among us, specifically immigrant farm workers.
The lawsuits are aimed at disrupting the close relationship between the Trump Administration and the chemical companies responsible for the creation of these dangerous poisons. Less than a month into Donald Trump’s presidency, Dow Chemical had shelled out $1 million to support the president. In addition, Trump nominated Scott Pruitt — a man with well-known connections to the pesticide industry — to be head of the EPA. In March of 2017, Pruitt caused a controversy when he struck down a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical. However, in June 2017 the Los Angeles Times reported that Pruitt had met with Dow’s Chief Executive Officer prior to making the decision and then lied about the meeting.
“Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s schedule shows he met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris for about half an hour March 9 during a conference held at a Houston hotel,” the L.A. Times reported. “Twenty days later, Pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food even though a review by his agency’s scientists concluded that ingesting even minuscule amounts of the chemical can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.”
The lawsuit comes as the U.S. Congress continues to debate the omnibus Farm Bill, which deals with policy for nutrition, conservation, organic standards, crop insurance and other programs. The current version of the farm bill expires on September 30. The current version of the bill includes a provision which would allow the EPA to approve new pesticides with no assessment of their potential impact on fish and wildlife covered under the Endangered Species Act. This would eliminate the requirement for the EPA to wait for independent research on the toxicity of pesticides in bodies of water, wetlands, and prairies. Due to the symbiotic, incestuous relationship between the federal government and the pesticide/biotech industry, the provision will likely make the cut into the final bill.
The Trump administration’s decision to continue the corporatism of past presidencies provides even more evidence that the new boss is the same as the old boss.
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