New legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) would protect the children by banning most toxic pesticides. In what’s being called “the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s pesticide law in nearly 25 years,” the bill is a reformation of the current lacking federal pesticide policy.
“Numerous studies show that existing EPA regulations for pesticides fail to protect children’s health,” Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations, said. “The federal pesticide policy is in urgent need of reform.”
The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticide Act of 2020 will not only introduce health-protective restrictions on pesticides to protect children who are especially susceptible, it will also create safeguards to protect farmworkers, according to a press release.
According to scientific research, the most toxic pesticides used in the U.S. include organophosphates, neonicotinoids and paraquat. Among those are chlorpyrifos, which cause brain damage in children, and malathion, which is said to increased the risk of prostate cancer and imidacloprid, as well as poison bees and other pollinator insects.
“The pesticide industry and chemical agriculture have for far too long been able to abuse legal loopholes allowing for the use of toxic pesticides that have not been adequately tested to make sure they are safe for people and the environment,” Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs, said. “As a result, millions of Americans are exposed to dangerous pesticides in their air, water and food. The Udall-Neguse plan will rein in this largely unchecked explosion of pesticide use by agriculture and give the EPA much stronger authority to protect the public.”
To be governed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), the bill would fall under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA, and strengthen the distribution, sale and use of pesticides. The bill would require the EPA “to immediately suspend and review the use of any pesticide that is banned in the European Union or Canada,” including herbicide atrazine, which is linked to hormone disruption and drinking water contamination, according to a press release.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, millions of pounds of agricultural pesticides, banned in the EU, China and Brazil because they are deemed too dangerous for use, are sprayed yearly in the U.S.
“We applaud Sen. Udall and Rep. Neguse for this bold and much-needed proposal to overhaul the nation’s pesticide law that puts the health and safety of children, farmworkers and all Americans first,” Faber said.
The bill would also tighten the “conditional registration” loophole within the current law, which “allows pesticide manufacturers to get new chemicals approved and into the marketplace before the EPA has reviewed all the available science to determine if it is safe,” according to a press release. It would also require a list of “inert” ingredients on all pesticide products to help protect farmworkers and other frontline communities exposed to the risks of pesticides.
“The science is crystal clear,” Margaret Reeves, PAN senior scientist, said. “These chemicals are putting our health, environment and food supply at risk and we must help farmers move away from them. Senator Udall’s bill puts science, public health and on-farm resilience over corporate profits — it’s passage is urgently needed and would finally put us on the right track.”