U.S. Using Pesticides Outlawed Elsewhere

Here’s a report that affects the food we’re buying. Normally, we assume that if it’s in a major supermarket, it safe and healthy. Now I find that assumption is not necessarily so. Comments and suggestions afterwards.

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New Study: United States Uses

85 Pesticides Outlawed in Other Countries


Harmful Poisons Shunned Elsewhere

Account for Quarter of All U.S. Pesticide Use


Center for Biological Diversity

6 June 2019


The United States allows the use of 85 pesticides that have been banned or are being phased out in the European Union, China or Brazil, according to a peer-reviewed study published today by the academic journal Environmental Health.

In 2016 the United States used 322 million pounds of pesticides that are banned in the E.U., accounting for more than one-quarter of all agricultural pesticide use in this country, according to the study. U.S. applicators also used 40 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in China and 26 million pounds of pesticides that are banned or being phased out in Brazil.

Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the study, said …


“It’s appalling the U.S. lags so far

behind these major agricultural po-

wers in banning harmful pesticides.


“The fact that we’re still using hun-

dreds of millions of pounds of

poisons other nations have wisely

rejected as too risky spotlights

our dangerously lax approach to

phasing out hazardous pesticides.”


The study compared the approval status of more than 500 pesticides used in outdoor applications in the world’s four largest agricultural economies: the United States, European Union, China and Brazil.


Report Highlights


  • The U.S. EPA continues to allow use of 85 pesticides for outdoor agricultural applications that are banned or in the process of being completely phased out elsewhere, including 72 in the E.U., 17 in Brazil and 11 in China.


  • The United States has banned only four pesticides still approved for use in the E.U., Brazil or China.


  • Pesticides approved in the United States but banned or being phased out in at least two of the three other nations in the study include: 2,4-DB, bensulide, chloropicrin, dichlobenil, dicrotophos, EPTC, norflurazon, oxytetracycline, paraquat, phorate, streptomycin, terbufos and tribufos.


  • The majority of pesticides banned in at least 2 of the 3 nations studied have not appreciably decreased in the United States over the past 25 years and almost all have stayed constant or increased over the past 10 years. Many have been implicated in acute pesticide poisonings in the United States, and some have been further restricted by individual states.


The study concludes that deficiencies in the U.S. pesticide regulatory process are the likely cause of the country failing to ban or phase out pesticides that the E.U., China and Brazil have prohibited.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act gives the U.S. EPA significant discretion on which pesticides to cancel and makes the EPA-initiated, nonvoluntary cancellation process particularly onerous and politically fraught. This has, in effect, made pesticide cancellation in the United States largely a voluntary endeavor by the pesticide industry itself. As a result, pesticide cancellations in the U.S. are more often economic decisions rather than decisions made to protect human or environmental health.

Donley said …


“Bans are the most effective way to

prevent exposures to highly hazardous

pesticides and can spur the transition

to safer alternatives.


“A combination of weak laws and the

EPA’s broken pesticide regulatory pro-

cess has allowed the pesticide industry

to dictate which pesticides stay in use.

That process undermines the safety of

agricultural workers and anyone who eats

food and drinks water in this country.”


The U.S. EPA’s Pesticide Office has come under intense scrutiny in recent years as a result of numerous scandals, including:



  • Its refusal to protect endangered species from pesticides, even when it’s been demonstratedby other federal agencies that use of the chemicals could put certain species at risk of extinction;


  • The agency’s industry-motivated decisionto overturn a long-overdue ban on chlorpyrifos despite compelling evidence that it harms the brains of children;


  • The recent approval of the largest ever expansion of medically-important antibiotics for use in plant agriculture, ignoring strong concernsabout increased antibiotic resistance from the FDA, CDC and public health officials;


  • Having to change the instructions on the dicamba pesticide label twice after the drift-prone pesticide damageda reported 5 million acres of crops, trees and backyard gardens over the last two years.


  • It’s liberal use of an “emergency” exemption loophole that allows unapproved pesticides to be used for routine, foreseeable situations for many consecutive years.


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I began commentary by ask D for suggestions of what to do in response …


“The United States has a large problem in balancing the desires of corporations versus the needs and health of humans. In this case, the chemical companies are using pesticide sales at the expense of people. It is a classic case of greed. 

“Your best bet is to, as much as possible, eat organic food. Depending on the state in which you live, the requirements can be slightly different. The more you can eat food that is grown with little or no chemicals, the better it is for your body. 

“We recognize that not everyone can eat 100% organic foods.  There is a list that is put out every year of the top “dirty foods” which are the foods that have the most pesticides used on them.  Their web site is www.ewg.org.  It would be advisable, at the very least, to avoid those foods. In most cases, the fruits and vegetables to avoid if not organic are soft-sided, such as strawberries and peaches. Do this as a practice of self-care.”


Since the “Citizens United” decision, and the formation of powerful political action committees – the “Super PACS” – industry groups, such as chemical companies, have been able to politically influence government officials and agencies.  Unhappily, in many situations we have to fend for ourselves.  In this case, paying more for the healthier organic foods, is a lot less expensive, less painful, and more healthful and comfortable than experiencing serious illness and paying steep medical bills.

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