EPA Chief met with DOW CEO be­fore can­cel­ing pesticide ban

South Florida Times - - BUSINESS - Associated Press The Associated Press.

Scott Pruitt and Dow CEO Andrew Liveris By MICHAEL BIESECKER WASH­ING­TON -- The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's top en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cial met pri­vately with the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Dow Chem­i­cal shortly be­fore re­vers­ing his agency's push to ban a widely used pesticide af­ter health stud­ies showed it can harm chil­dren's brains, ac­cord­ing to records ob­tained by

En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt's sched­ule shows he met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris for about a half hour on March 9 dur­ing a con­fer­ence held at a Hous­ton ho­tel. Twenty days later Pruitt an­nounced his de­ci­sion to deny a pe­ti­tion to ban Dow's chlor­pyri­fos pesticide from be­ing sprayed on food, de­spite a re­view by his agency's sci­en­tists that con­cluded in­gest­ing even mi­nus­cule amounts of the chem­i­cal can in­ter­fere with the brain devel­op­ment of fe­tuses and in­fants.

EPA re­leased a copy of Pruitt's March meet­ing sched­ule ear­lier this month fol­low­ing sev­eral Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quests.

Asked by the AP in April whether Pruitt had met with Dow ex­ec­u­tives or lob­by­ists be­fore his de­ci­sion, EPA spokesman J.P. Freire replied: "We have had no meet­ings with Dow on this topic."

EPA did not re­spond this week to ques­tions about what Pruitt and Liveris did dis­cuss dur­ing their March 9 meet­ing, or whether the two had also met on other oc­ca­sions.

Liveris has close ties to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. He heads a White House man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ing group, and Dow wrote a $1 mil­lion check to help un­der­write the pres­i­dent's in­au­gu­ral fes­tiv­i­ties.

The Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics has urged Pruitt to take chlor­pyri­fos off the mar­ket. The group rep­re­sent­ing more than 66,000 pe­di­a­tri­cians and pe­di­atric sur­geons said Tues­day it is “deeply alarmed” by Pruitt's de­ci­sion to al­low the pesticide's con­tin­ued use.

“There is a wealth of sci­ence demon­strat­ing the detri­men­tal ef­fects of chlor­pyri­fos ex­po­sure to de­vel­op­ing fe­tuses, in­fants, chil­dren, and preg­nant women,” the academy said in a let­ter to Pruitt. "The risk to in­fant and chil­dren's health and devel­op­ment is un­am­bigu­ous."

The AP re­ported in April that Dow is lob­by­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to "set aside" the find­ings of fed­eral sci­en­tists that organophos­phate pes­ti­cides, in­clud­ing chlor­pyri­fos, are also harm­ful to about 1,800 crit­i­cally threat­ened or en­dan­gered species.

U.S. farm­ers spray more than 6 mil­lion pounds of chlor­pyri­fos each year on citrus fruits, ap­ples, cher­ries and other crops, mak­ing it one of the most widely used pes­ti­cides in the world.

First de­vel­oped as a chem­i­cal weapon prior to World War II, Dow has been sell­ing chlor­pyri­fos as a pesticide since the mid-1960s. It has been blamed for sick­en­ing dozens of farm­work­ers in re­cent years. Traces have been found in wa­ter­ways, threat­en­ing fish, and ex­perts say overuse could make tar­geted in­sects im­mune to the pesticide.

Un­der pres­sure from fed­eral reg­u­la­tors over safety con­cerns, Dow with­drew chlor­pyri­fos for use as a home in­sec­ti­cide in 2000. EPA also placed “no-spray” buf­fer zones around sen­si­tive sites, such as schools, in 2012.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal and public health groups said those pro­pos­als don't go far enough and filed a fed­eral law­suit seek­ing a na­tional ban on the pesticide.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­posed re­vok­ing the pesticide's use in re­sponse to a pe­ti­tion from the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil and Pesticide Ac­tion Net­work North Amer­ica. A risk as­sess­ment memo is­sued in Novem­ber by nine EPA sci­en­tists con­cluded: "There is a breadth of in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the po­ten­tial ad­verse neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal ef­fects in in­fants and chil­dren as a re­sult of pre­na­tal ex­po­sure to chlor­pyri­fos."

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF WIKIPEDIA AND THE DOW CHEM­I­CAL COM­PANY

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