U.S. re­view shows pes­ti­cides harm threat­ened salmon, whales

The Maui News - - NEWS - By MICHAEL BIESECKER The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Fed­eral sci­en­tists have de­ter­mined that a fam­ily of widely used pes­ti­cides poses a threat to dozens of en­dan­gered and threat­ened species, in­clud­ing Pa­cific salmon, At­lantic stur­geon and Puget Sound or­cas.

The Na­tional Ma­rine Fish­eries Ser­vice is­sued its new bi­o­log­i­cal opin­ion on three organophos­phate pes­ti­cides — chlor­pyri­fos, di­azi­non and malathion — af­ter a years­long court fight by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups. At the urg­ing of pes­ti­cide man­u­fac­tur­ers, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had sought a two-year de­lay of a court-or­dered dead­line to is­sue the find­ings by the end of 2017, but it was un­suc­cess­ful.

The ex­haus­tive 3,700-page fed­eral re­view, dated Dec. 29, con­cludes that chlor­pyri­fos and malathion jeop­ar­dize 38 out of the 77 species un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the fish­eries ser­vice and that di­azi­non was found to jeop­ar­dize 25 of the listed species.

The re­port makes de­tailed rec­om­men­da­tions to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency for new re­stric­tions on how and where the pes­ti­cides can be sprayed to help limit the harm.

EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt in March re­versed an Obama-era ef­fort to bar the use of chlor­pyri­fos on fruits and veg­eta­bles af­ter peer-re­viewed aca­demic stud­ies found that even tiny lev­els of ex­po­sure could hin­der the de­vel­op­ment of chil­dren’s brains.

EPA’s press of­fice did not re­spond Fri­day to a re­quest seek­ing com­ment about the lat­est fed­eral study on the threat to pro­tected species.

Organophos­pho­rus gas was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped as a chem­i­cal weapon be­fore World War II. Dow Chem­i­cal, based in Mid­land, Mich., has been sell­ing chlor­pyri­fos for spray­ing on cit­rus fruits, ap­ples, cher­ries and other crops since the 1960s. It is among the most widely used agri­cul­tural pes­ti­cides in the United States, with Dow sell­ing about 5 mil­lion pounds do­mes­ti­cally each year.

Dow AgroS­ciences, the Dow sub­sidiary that sells chlor­pyri­fos, did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Fri­day.

The As­so­ci­ated Press first re­ported in April that lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Dow and two other pes­ti­cide com­pa­nies sent let­ters to three of Trump’s Cab­i­net sec­re­taries say­ing the aca­demic stud­ies were flawed. Dow wrote a $1 mil­lion check to help un­der­write Trump’s in­au­gu­ral fes­tiv­i­ties, and com­pany CEO An­drew Liveris led a now-dis­banded White House man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ing group.

CropLife Amer­ica, an in­dus­try trade group that lob­bies Congress and fed­eral agen­cies on pes­ti­cide reg­u­la­tions, said it is still re­view­ing the fi­nal Na­tional Ma­rine Fish­eries Ser­vice opin­ion.

“The de­nial of a re­quested ex­ten­sion of time to com­plete the opin­ion re­sulted in a doc­u­ment that has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate ex­ag­ger­ated and un­founded con­cerns re­gard­ing threat­ened and en­dan­gered species and have a neg­a­tive im­pact on farm­ers as well as pub­lic health pro­tec­tion,” said Jay Vroom, the CEO of CropLife.

A coali­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and com­mer­cial fish­er­men has fought in court for more than a decade to spur the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to more closely ex­am­ine the risk posed to hu­mans and en­dan­gered species by organophos­phates.

Stud­ies have shown for years that even low lev­els of pes­ti­cides run­ning off into streams and rivers can im­pair the growth, swim­ming abil­ity and re­pro­duc­tive sys­tems of salmon. Po­ten­tially harm­ful lev­els of the tox­ins then build up in the bod­ies of or­cas, also known as killer whales, that eat salmon.

“Salmon have been wait­ing four decades for re­lief from toxic pes­ti­cides in many of our rivers,” said Glen Spain, the north­west re­gional direc­tor of the Pa­cific Coast Fed­er­a­tion of Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tions. “The agen­cies should do their job.”

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