JUN 11, 2019 4:06 PM PDT

The US fails to ban harmful pesticides

The US is lagging. A new study published in the open access journal Environmental Health reports that the US has failed to ban many dangerous and toxic pesticides that are banned throughout the rest of the world.

The author of the study, Nathan Donley, is from the Center for Biological Diversity, USA. Donley compared approved agricultural pesticides in the US with those approved in the EU, China and Brazil and determined that the US still allows for the usage of pesticides that these other countries have banned or are in the process of phasing out.

In fact, according to Science Daily, “of the 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used in US agriculture in 2016, roughly 322 million pounds were pesticides banned in the EU, 40 million pounds were pesticides banned in China and nearly 26 million pounds were pesticides banned in Brazil. Over 10% of total pesticide use in the USA was from pesticide ingredients either banned, not approved or of unknown status in all three of the other nations.”

And just to throw some more numbers at you, Donley also determined that for the EU, Brazil and China, has banned or is phasing out 72, 17 and 11 pesticides, respectively, which are approved for use in the USA.

Donley says it may be time to update our own self-image. "The USA is generally regarded as being highly regulated and having protective pesticide safeguards in place,” comments Donley. “This study contradicts that narrative and finds that in fact, in the last couple of decades, nearly all pesticide cancellations in the USA have been done voluntarily by the pesticide industry. Without a change in the US Environmental Protection Agency's current reliance on voluntary mechanisms for cancellations, the USA will likely continue to lag behind its peers in banning harmful pesticides."

Compared with the EU, Brazil, and China, the US is failing to ban harmful pesticides. Photo: Pixabay

As Donley mentions, while the EU, Brazil, and China have much stricter regulations on pesticides, they also differ from the US in that they have non-voluntary cancellations while the US has voluntary cancellation policies, meaning that the pesticide industry can choose to cancel or not renew active ingredients in pesticides. This results in less regulation regarding the pesticides entering American lands and waterways.

Donley concluded, "Voluntary cancellations ultimately create bias towards pesticides that are easier to cancel because their use has dropped so much that they have become less economically viable to pesticides makers. They can also lead to a significantly longer phase-out period than the typical one-year period for most non-voluntarily canceled pesticides."

Sources: Science Daily, Environmental Health

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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