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Herbicides

New EPA-approved DuPont herbicide linked to widespread killing of trees, authorities unconcerned

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: herbicides, trees, health news

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(NaturalNews) The DuPont chemical company recently received approval from the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for its new herbicide Imprelis (aminocyclopyrachlor), which has been alleged as an "environmentally friendly" alternative to other herbicides.

However, a recent New York Times (NYT) report implicates the herbicide in causing the widespread deaths of thousands of trees across the country, including Norway spruces, eastern white pines, willows, poplars, and conifers.

DuPont originally designed Imprelis with the stated intent to kill lawn weeds like dandelion and clover -- both of these "weeds" happen to be highly nutritious foods, by the way (http://www.naturalnews.com/dandelion.html) -- because, frankly, most people want their lawns to be perfectly homogenous in every way. But the chemical, despite being marketed as safe for the environment, is killing off trees as well, which has caused quite an uproar.

The NYT report indicates that DuPont, various local nurseries and garden supply stores that carry and sell Imprelis, and even authorities, are receiving hordes of complaints from the public that the herbicide is their killing trees en masse.

And yet DuPont remains in denial that Imprelis is to blame, and has already come out claiming that customers might be at fault for improperly mixing or applying the chemical. And the EPA appears to be taking a similar approach, despite giving very unconvincing lip-service that it is taking the situation "very seriously."

"We've made 1,000 applications and had 350 complaints of dead trees, and it's climbing," lamented Matt Coats, services manager for Underwood Nursery in Adrian, Mich., to the NYT. "I've done nothing for the last three weeks but deal with angry customers. We're seeing some tree doing OK, with just the tips getting brown, and others are completely dead and it looks like someone took a flamethrower to them."

Coats went on to say that while his nursery has liability insurance to replace the dead trees, each incident holds a $500 deductible. In other words, his company has already spent $150,000 out of pocket to pay for damages caused by Imprelis, and these costs are escalating. Many landscapers, however, have it far worse, as their insurance policies largely do not cover dead trees, many of which were mature and irreplaceable.

The EPA deserves much of the blame for approving Imprelis in the first place

The fact that DuPont markets Imprelis as having "low toxicity to mammals and low environmental impact" -- all while the chemical cocktail is actually causing a real-life, utterly-devastating environmental impact as we speak -- is despicable. And while it is easy to put all the blame on DuPont for selling a product that is mislabeled, at best, it is important not to forget that the EPA is actually responsible as well because the agency approved the herbicide in the first place.

According to the NYT, the EPA spent 23 months investigating Imprelis prior to granting it approval. It is unclear what type of investigating the agency actually performed during this time, though, as one would think that a basic platform of product testing would include seeing how trees, plants, and other non-target shrubs respond to the herbicide -- which it appears the agency did not do.

The EPA either never performed any safety testing on Imprelis at all, in which case it has proven itself to be an utterly useless "protector" of the environment, or it performed tests and did not consider the findings to be of much concern. In either case, the EPA has demonstrated that it is unable to properly perform its job duties, and deserves to be stripped of all regulatory authority.

Since pyralids, the class of herbicides to which Imprelis belongs, have been known to poison non-target plants as far back as 2008, the indictment of the EPA goes even deeper. Pyralids biodegrade so slowly that they can remain in soil for years and leech directly into groundwater supplies. And if the soil is ever composted, the herbicide can spread even further, causing extensive damage (http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Garde...).

Such easily-accessed information must have come up during the EPA's 23-month "investigation" of Imprelis, which suggests that the EPA was willfully complicit in approving a dangerous product that is mislabeled as being safe. And if this is the case, then the EPA must be immediately investigated and held liable for potential criminal activity.

No synthetic chemical herbicide is truly safe, despite claims made by chemical companies

What all of this really comes down to is the fact that no synthetic chemical formula is safe. No matter how creatively the chemical companies try to label their products as "safe" or "low impact," such claims are patently false when the chemicals in question have been synthetically engineered to kill plants.

The only effective and safe ways to deal with weeds is either to pull them out by hand, or learn to accept them and the many benefits they can actually provide, which include improving soil health and reducing the need for excess watering.

There are also a variety of companies that produce truly-safe and natural lawn care products that will help with lawn management. To learn more, visit:
http://www.safelawns.org

Sources for this story include:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/science/ea...
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