Originally published December 4 2014
Dow sells twice as much cancer-causing 1,3-D, despite the pesticide being technically illegal
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) A chemical pesticide that was outlawed nearly 25 years ago is once again being used in California by conventional strawberry farmers, according to information obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). This is despite copious evidence that the noxious substance is killing the environment and harming humans.
The continued failure of state regulators to finally do away with the toxic fumigant 1,3-Dichloropropene, or 1,3-D, which is essentially used to kill everything that naturally lives in soils, threatens both the environment and public health. In the latter case, this pervasive fumigant has been linked to causing cancer in humans.
In 2001 the California Department of Pesticide Regulation sidestepped ban at farmers urgingBack in 2001, then-Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) Paul Helliker sidestepped an earlier ban on 1,3-D after farmers bemoaned that not having access to it would put them out of business. They were soon to lose another beloved fumigant known as methyl bromide, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared was responsible for depleting the stratospheric ozone layer.
Methyl bromide was completely phased out beginning in 2005, but several years prior conventional strawberry farmers and the Dow Chemical Company, which had been manufacturing 1,3-D, struck a deal with CDPR to once again allow 1,3-D on the market for a period of two years. This temporary loophole was supposed to give growers time to investigate safer options before 1,3-D was once again outlawed.
But this supposedly temporary agreement eventually became permanent, and 1,3-D remains in use today, despite it technically being illegal. And to make matters worse, Dow was since able to secure permission from the state to double the use of 1,3-D, with no plan in place to ever phase the chemical out of use as was supposed to happen.
According to CIR scientists, this decision has put more than 1 million Californians living in 100 communities throughout the state at an elevated risk of cancer. This is particularly true in areas where conventional strawberry fields abut neighborhoods, parks and schools like Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, which is surrounded on all four sides by fields routinely sprayed with 1,3-D.
Helliker: Use all the 1,3-D you want, because it will magically work itself out in the end Defending his decision to arbitrarily alter the state's pesticide policy, Helliker made known his opinion that 1,3-D is not much of a risk, and that people exposed to it over many years will be just fine. But CDPR staff toxicologist Dr. Linda Hall wrote otherwise in a 2009 memorandum to senior toxicologist Joseph Frank.
Referencing an absurd suggestion made by Helliker that elevated pesticide exposure during a given year is just fine so as long as it is "evened out" by years of decreased use, Dr. Hall wrote that CDPR scientists "do not agree."
"If you get pulled over once and you are sober, but you are pulled over a second time and your blood alcohol level is twice as high as the legal limit, you can't average the two incidents and say everything is fine," explains CIR.
Nearly five years have passed since Dr. Hall submitted her plea to discontinue use of 1,3-D, and the chemical is still in use. Methyl bromide is reportedly also still in use, even though it is technically banned as well. And together, these fumigants are continuing to spread disease and death to millions of Californians, all so the rest of the country can have a steadily available supply of cheap strawberries.
"[E]ven when they're used correctly, [these fumigants] turn into hard-to-control gases that float into the air, affecting workers and residents," adds CIR. "They've been linked to cancer, developmental problems and the hole in the ozone layer."
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