Lawyers representing Dow Chemical and two other companies that manufacture organophosphate pesticides have sent letters to the heads of the EPA, the Department of Commerce, and the Fish and Wildlife service asking them to “set aside” the results of “fundamentally flawed” federal studies that prove that these chemicals are harmful to nearly 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.
Environmental advocates said Wednesday that the criticism of the studies, which examined chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion over the past four years, was unfounded, as the methods used were developed for the National Academy of Scientists.
These letters were sent in reaction to an announcement from Scott Pruitt, who said last month that he would reverse an effort that surfaced during the Obama administration to bar the use of chlorpyrifos, despite a 2015 ban proposal made after findings linking chlorpyrifos exposure to neurological harm.
“We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking,” J.P. Freire, EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs, told the Associated Press. “The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA’s regulations, while also reviewing past decisions.”
Dow Chemical sells approximately five million pounds of chlorpyrifos in the United States each year and has been selling the chemical since the 1960s, according to the Associated Press. Organophosphorus gas was originally developed as a chemical weapon by Nazi Germany, but today, it is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States.
In November 2016, EPA revised its human health risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, noting that, “the revised analysis indicates that expected residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops exceed the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).”
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