something's in the water
Dow Chemical is pressuring the Trump administration to throw out a 10,000-page study compiled by government scientists that concluded several popular pesticides are dangerous to 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species, The Associated Press reports. Lawyers from the company sent letters to the heads of three Cabinet agencies last week asking that the study, which was compiled over the course of four years, be "set aside."
Dow's chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris, is a friend and close adviser of President Trump, and his company donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration. "Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties, and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws," said Dow's director of public affairs, Rachelle Schikorra. "Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity."
The three pesticides under review are chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. Last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tore up an Obama-era effort to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food, which had been put in place after a study found that even small amounts of exposure to the pesticide could hamper children's brain development. Chlorpyrifos originate from a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany, and Dow sells about 5 million pounds in the U.S. each year. The pesticide is so popular, in fact, that a 2012 study in California found 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples from newborns contained levels of chlorpyrifos.
Likewise, the Bush administration banned diazinon from residential use in 2005 after finding it posed a health risk to children, although it is still sprayed on fruits and vegetables by farmers. Malathion, which controls fruit flies and mosquitoes, is also the poison used in some shampoos that treat lice.
The federal scientists found that chlorpyrifos are "likely to adversely affect" 1,778 of the 1,835 animals and plants in its study. Diazinon and malathion were also found to be alarmingly threatening to vulnerable species. The findings of the study are expected to result in new regulations.
"Endangered species are the canary in the coal mine," warned Brett Hartl, the government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity. Dow's lawyers called the research "not reliable."