Shared from the 9/24/2020 Houston Chronicle eEdition

EPA rejects its own findings that a pesticide is harmful

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has rejeczted scientific evidence linking the pesticide chlorpyrifos to serious health problems, directly contradicting federal scientists’ conclusions five years ago that it can stunt brain development in children.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of the pesticide, which is widely used on soybeans, almonds, grapes and other crops, is a fresh victory for chemical-makers and the agricultural industry, as well as the latest in a long list of Trump administration regulatory rollbacks.

In announcing its decision, the EPA said Tuesday that “despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.” However, in making its finding, the agency excluded several epidemiological studies, most prominently one conducted at Columbia University.

As a result, the assessment may be the first major test of the Trump administration’s intention, often referred to as its “secret science” proposal, to bar or give less weight to scientific studies that can’t or don’t publicly release their underlying data. This controversial policy would eliminate many studies, because the data often includes confidential medical records of the subjects, scientists have said.

The EPA repeatedly cited a lack of access to raw data in the studies it rejected, and came to the conclusion that the findings — though they have been backed up by other peer-reviewed studies — were inconclusive. The EPA has not finalized the regulation that would officially restrict using such studies in decision-making, but the chlorpyrifos assessment suggests it has moved forward in applying it.

“This shows that EPA has completely abandoned any commitment to protecting children from this extremely toxic chemical when their own scientists recommended twice to ban it. The science is being overridden by politics,” said Erik D. Olson, senior director for health at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

James Hewitt, a spokesman for the EPA, said in a statement that the agency “remains unable to verify the reported findings” of the Columbia study.

Several states, including California, New York and Hawaii, already have enacted bans of varying strictness. Corteva, the world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, has said it will stop producing the chemical by the end of this year.

See this article in the e-Edition Here
Edit Privacy