WASHINGTON – An environment group here is warning that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a key government regulator, may have been haphazardly approving thousands of pesticides for decades, some of which pose risks to both human and environmental health.
Critics say the EPA should not have approved clothianidin, a potent pesticide that belongs to a family of substances linked to the current widespread die-off of global honeybee populations. (Credit: Bob Peterson/cc by 2.0) Following on two years of research, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a watchdog group, has found that as much as 65 percent of the 16,000 pesticides the EPA approved between the late 1970s and 2010 were greenlighted through a hasty and potentially incomplete process.
The public is under the false impression that if a substance has been registered by the EPA, it has gone through a thorough government review.
NRDC says these 11,000 substances were approved using a loophole in strict regulatory legislation known as “conditional registration”, created by the U.S. Congress to be used only in very limited circumstances.
“Properly used, conditionally registering a new pesticide provides an important benefit in special situations such as allowing new pesticides on the market to address a public health emergency,” a new NRDC report, released Wednesday, states.
“However, improper use of conditional registration means that scores of untested or undertested pesticides may litter the market, potentially threatening human health.”
The EPA told IPS it has yet to fully review the new report. However, the agency says it has found that “the data required pursuant to conditional registrations have been submitted and reviewed in a timely fashion. EPA’s review of the data confirms that products initially registered on a conditional basis are not posing unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.”