Grass

A classification loophole in pesticide approval under the EPA’s ‘conditional registration’ clause is allowing thousands of pesticides into the market without enough testing, reports Salon.

According to the article, 11,000 of 16,000 pesticides or herbicides allowed into the marketplace as of 2010 have been approved under the agency’s conditional registration, meeting minimal, if any, safety study requirements, and it’s a cause for concern: “Environmental and health advocates believe that such a process is not adequate and insist that the agency immediately cancel all the pesticide registrations that have overdue studies.”

These pesticides may be found in a number of nontraditional items beyond our food, too, explains Salon, “they’re actually found in everything from cosmetics to food containers, as well as antimicrobial textiles.”

But the EPA defends its approval of conditionally registered pesticides, calling them “me-too” products essentially identical to other pesticides already approved for use, saying the need for additional testing is unnecessary. Still, the loophole gives consumers no protection against possible dangers of these pesticides. Often the only safety assurances come from the manufacturers themselves.

In order to sell any pesticide in the U.S. the law requires a years long process of approval, which includes public comments, scientific study revues and EPA’s own scientific evaluations of the data. Conditional registration “was intended to be used only under rare circumstances — when a product is nearly identical to one already on the market.” or when the EPA “needs to approve a new pesticide immediately to prevent a disease outbreak or other public health emergency.”

Of the more than 90,000 pesticides approved by the EPA since it began registering pesticides in 1972, 25,000 of them have been approved through the conditional registration process; and according to Salon, it’s not known exactly how many have ever gone through any of the required safety tests.

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Image: juhansonin