Chem­i­cal mak­ers want risk stud­ies dis­carded

As­sess­ments of harm to 1,800 species flawed, man­u­fac­tur­ers as­sert

The Dallas Morning News - - FROM THE FRONT PAGE - Michael Biesecker,

WASH­ING­TON — Dow Chem­i­cal is push­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to ig­nore the find­ings of fed­eral sci­en­tists who point to a fam­ily of widely used pes­ti­cides as harm­ful to about 1,800 crit­i­cally threat­ened or en­dan­gered species.

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Dow, whose CEO is a close ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, and two other man­u­fac­tur­ers of organophos­phates sent letters last week to the heads of three of Trump’s Cabi­net agen­cies. The com­pa­nies asked them “to set aside” the re­sults of gov­ern­ment stud­ies the com­pa­nies con­tend are fun­da­men­tally flawed.

Dow Chem­i­cal wrote a $1 mil­lion check to help un­der­write Trump’s in­au­gu­ral fes­tiv­i­ties, and its chair­man and CEO, Andrew Liveris, heads a White House man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ing group. Trump has said he wants to scrap reg­u­la­tions that he says are a drag on the econ­omy.

The in­dus­try’s re­quest comes af­ter EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt an­nounced last month he was re­vers­ing an Obama-era ef­fort to bar the use of Dow’s chlor­pyri­fos pes­ti­cide on food af­ter re­cent peer-re­viewed stud­ies found that even tiny lev­els of ex­po­sure could hin­der the devel­op­ment of chil­dren’s brains.

Pruitt de­clined to an­swer ques­tions from re­porters Wed­nes­day as he toured a pol­luted Su­per­fund site in In­di­ana.

The letters to Cabi­net heads, dated April 13, were ob­tained by The Associated Press. As with the re­cent hu­man stud­ies of chlor­pyri­fos, Dow hired its own sci­en­tists, who pro­duced a lengthy re­but­tal to the gov­ern­ment stud­ies.

Over the past four years, fed­eral sci­en­tists have com­piled an of­fi­cial record run­ning more than 10,000 pages in­di­cat­ing that the three pes­ti­cides un­der re­view — chlor­pyri­fos, di­azi­non and malathion — pose a risk to nearly ev­ery en­dan­gered species they stud­ied. Reg­u­la­tors at the three fed­eral agen­cies, which share re­spon sibil­i­ties for en­forc­ing the En­dan­gered Species Act, are close to is­su­ing find­ings ex­pected to re­sult in new lim­its on how and where the highly toxic pes­ti­cides can be used.

The EPA’s re­cent bi­o­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tion of chlor­pyri­fos found the pes­ti­cide is “likely to ad­versely af­fect” 1,778 of the 1,835 an­i­mals and plants ac­cessed as part of its study, in­clud­ing crit­i­cally en­dan­gered or threat­ened species of frogs, fish, birds and mam­mals. Sim­i­lar re­sults were shown for malathion and di­azi­non.

In a state­ment, the Dow sub­sidiary that sells chlor­pyri­fos said its lawyers asked for the EPA’s bi­o­log­i­cal as­sess­ment to be with­drawn be­cause its “sci­en­tific ba­sis was not re­li­able.”

FMC Corp., which sells malathion, said with­drawal of the EPA stud­ies would al­low the nec­es­sary time for the “best avail­able” sci­en­tific data to be com­piled.

En­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates said Wed­nes­day that crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment’s sci­en­tists was un­founded. The meth­ods used to con­duct EPA’s bi­o­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions were de­vel­oped by the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences.

Brett Hartl, gov­ern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor for the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity, said Dow’s ex­perts were try­ing to hold EPA sci­en­tists to an un­re­al­is­tic stan­dard of data col­lec­tion.

“You can’t just take an en­dan­gered fish out of the wild, take it to the lab and then ex­pose it to enough pes­ti­cides un­til it dies to get that sort of data,” Hartl said. “It’s wrong morally, and it’s il­le­gal.”

2009 File Photo/The Associated Press

A crop-duster sprays a field near Head­land, Ala. Dow Chem­i­cal and two other man­u­fac­tur­ers have sent letters to mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Cabi­net urg­ing them to set aside gov­ern­ment stud­ies on the risks posed by pes­ti­cides.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press

Af­ter sign­ing an ex­ec­u­tive or­der in Fe­bru­ary, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gave the pen he used to Andrew Liveris, Dow Chem­i­cal chair­man and CEO and a Trump ad­viser.


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