Despite decades of research in the area of pesticides and human-health risks, gaps persist between usage, environmental damage, health impacts and state regulators (such as the EPA). Pesticide applications involve many agencies and individuals stemming from farmers, ranchers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers, schools and from individuals in private homes.
As usage and reliance of pesticides continues on a constant upward trend in most conventional farms both in the US and abroad, little time and money is invested by scientists in the EPA working to advance the accuracy of pesticide risk assessment. For example, Dr. Ruth Etzel, former director of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP), filed a complaint against the agency accusing them of failing to protect children from environmental toxicants while focusing instead on corporate interests. Dr. Etzel has faced retaliation and her case against the EPA is presently being heard. Dr. Etzel is among five current or former EPA scientists who have alleged a range of complicity of the EPA with industry despite those relationships clearly placing the public at harm.
Another thorn in the side of the EPA occurred in 2007 over its failure to adhere to the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in the case of chlorpyrifos. After years of legal battles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals filed in favor of a consortium of advocacy groups for health, farmworkers, child and environmental protection organizers. The decision has come up under review presently under President Biden’s administration. The concern is that pesticide registrants will continue with their influence and stronghold over the science of pesticide risk assessments.
A prominent example of lack of a regulation is the glaring environmental disaster of glyphosate; the active ingredient in the Roundup herbicides. Due to a lack of oversight, high-risk application scenarios have persisted leading to dangerous exposures and off-label applications. There are ongoing legal battles over the role of glyphosate and cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The failure of the EPA and the parent company of Monsanto, Bayer, to provide sufficient warnings and safety requirements on their products led to countless present and foreseeable future preventable health crises.