Proposed Bill Targets Paraquat, Organophosphates and Neonicotinoids

Proposed bill targets pesticides, FIFRA. ( Lindsey Pound )

Litigation continues against common pesticides—this time targeting two insecticides and one herbicide. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) proposed the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 (PACTPA) to change the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

At the heart of the bill, Udall and Neguse claim that EPA and the current pesticide laws do not keep citizens safe.

“This bill updates our laws so that they adhere to the science,” Udall said. “And the science is warning us that we must protect critical links in our food chain, and protect children and farmworkers from brain damage and other health risks of dangerous pesticides.”

If the bill is passed, the following would occur:

  • Certain pesticides will be banned.
    • Organophosphate insecticide.
    • Neonicotinoid insecticide.
    • Paraquat herbicide.
  • Regulatory process will be changed.
    • Citizens will be able to petition EPA to identify dangerous pesticides so they will not be indefinitely permitted to remain on the market.
    • It will stop EPA from issuing emergency exemptions and conditional registrations to use pesticides before they have gone through full health and safety reviews.
    • Communities will be able to enact protective legislation and other policies without fear of veto of preemption by state law.
    • It will suspend the use of pesticides the European Union or Canada says are unsafe until reviewed by EPA.
  • Protections will be provided for pesticide users.
    • Farmworker employees will be required to report all pesticide-related injuries to EPA, with penalties for failure to report or retaliation.
    • EPA will have to review pesticide injury reports and work with pesticide manufacturers to develop ‘better’ labeling to prevent injury.
    • All pesticide labels will need to also be written in Spanish.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Jahana Haynes (D-Conn.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.), Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Adriana Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) helped sponsor this bill.

Manufacturers strongly oppose this legislation.

Those who create at least one of the three targeted chemicals: paraquat, organophosphate and neonicotinoid pesticides are opposed to this bill. They claim the products they produce are safe when used according to their label.

“BASF is aware of the legislation that was introduced in both the House and Senate by Rep. Neguse (D-Colorado) and Sen. Udall (D-New Mexico). All approved uses of clothianidin have been subject to an in-depth evaluation process based on hundreds of scientific studies reviewed by authorities worldwide, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to protect human health and the environment. When used according to label instructions, neonicotinoids, including clothianidin, present minimal risk to humans and offer environmental benefits over other conventional insecticides,” the company said in an emailed statement to Agweb.

Bayer also came out in support of neonicotinoids.

“The loss of neonicotinoids would only hurt farmers and not help bees. We know more about neonicotinoids and honey bees than any other pesticide, and science clearly tells us these products are not responsible for colony decline. Neonicotinoids are critical tools used in modern integrated pest management programs because they are effective, require less treatment, and have a more favorable human safety and environmental profile than the older products they replaced.  That is why they are widely used to protect our crops, homes, recreational spaces, and even pets from destructive pests,” Bayer said in an emailed statement.

When contacted, Corteva Agriscience and Syngenta declined to comment on the specifics of this bill.


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