The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lori Ann Burd,

Petition Calls on EPA to Require Pesticide Companies to Disclose Data on Chemical Mixtures

Agency Has Approved Nearly 100 Pesticide Products Without Accounting for Dangers of Synergistic Effects


The Center for Biological Diversity today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to require pesticide companies to provide data on the "synergistic" effects of pesticide products when seeking approval for those products. The petition follows a Center investigation that revealed that more than two-thirds of pesticide products the EPA approved for four major companies contain mixtures making them more poisonous and increasing their threat to imperiled pollinators and rare plants.

The information on synergy was found by the Center in publically available patents, but apparently was not shared with the EPA.

"The pesticide industry has been gaming the system for too long, saying one thing to the U.S. Patent Office and another to the EPA," said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. "Our request is simple and just makes good common sense: The EPA needs to require pesticide companies to give it the information it needs to determine whether these pesticides are safe for use on our food and lawns."

Beginning in 1984 the EPA's own regulations specifically said the agency could request data and testing on pesticide synergy from pesticide companies, but in 2007 it deleted this provision, calling it unnecessary. As a result the risks of synergistic combinations have been widely overlooked by EPA in its approval of pesticides for food, lawns and everyday products.

"The EPA is supposed to protect people, wildlife and the environment from the dangers of pesticides, but how can it do its job if it doesn't even have basic information about how these pesticides work in the real world?" said Burd.

The Center's investigation involved an intensive search of patent applications of pesticide products containing two or more active ingredients recently approved by the EPA for four major agrochemical companies (Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta). It found that 96 of the 140 products had at least one patent claiming synergy. The Center's findings are available in its report, Toxic Concoctions: How the EPA Ignores the Dangers of Pesticide Cocktails.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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