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Government Accountability Office Blasts EPA for Failing to Monitor Pesticide Use Across Country
Congressional Investigation Finds Legal Loophole Allows Pesticides to Be Approved Without Full Study of Impacts on Human Health, Environment
WASHINGTON - September 10 - The U.S. Government Accountability Office sharply criticized the EPA in a new report for failing to track pesticide use across the country. The GAO report found that the EPA had no idea how many pesticide registrations it had approved, whether conditions of these registrations were being followed, or whether studies required by the registrations had even been completed. The report follows a National Academy of Sciences study earlier this year that similarly faulted the EPA for failing to address the harmful impacts of pesticides on the nation’s endangered species.
“EPA is asleep at the wheel, allowing the chemical industry to drive the approval process without looking at whether these pesticides are a danger to people and wildlife,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pesticide companies are abusing a loophole in the law, and the EPA is blindly rubber-stamping toxic products across America.”
The GAO — the investigative arm of Congress — analyzed how “conditional registrations” allow the EPA to approve pesticides under a legal loophole without requiring manufacturers to submit studies on the health and environmental hazards. In the report EPA noted that 69 percent of the more than 16,000 pesticides approved in the United States are conditionally registered, but admitted that the actual number could not be determined. The GAO report found that required studies to determine pesticide hazards were never submitted and that EPA’s pesticide-tracking system was substantially flawed.
The report noted several conditionally registered pesticides that have been recalled or linked to environmental harm. The herbicide Imprelis, for example, was first conditionally registered, but was pulled from the market by DuPont after it was linked to the deaths of evergreen trees. EPA’s conditional-registration process never required any analysis on the effect of the herbicide on trees. The report also noted that the neonicitinoid pesticide Clothianidin was conditionally registered even though it has been criticized for killing honeybees and was banned by the European Union.
The earlier report, put out by the National Academy of Sciences this spring, criticized the EPA’s failure to adequately analyze the impacts of pesticides on endangered wildlife as required by the Endangered Species Act. That report found that the EPA has not properly coordinated with expert wildlife agencies and has not adequately analyzed the sub-lethal, indirect and cumulative effects of pesticides.
“The EPA must not allow pesticides on the market without studies showing they are safe for the environment and our communities,” said Evans. “EPA’s pesticide program needs to protect wildlife and the environment and not simply grease the wheels of the pesticide industry.”
The Government Accountability Office report is titled Pesticides: EPA Should Take Steps to Improve Its Oversight of Conditional Registrations.