Pesticide makers claim endangered species science ‘flawed’

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Dow AgroSciences and two other pesticide manufacturers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw scientific reports that were provided to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the effects of those pesticides on endangered species.

The reports were one of the final acts of President Barack Obama’s administration and were submitted just two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The letters, accompanied by a study sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, refuting those EPA reports claim the government research is “flawed” and are addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The research includes a finding that one of the pesticides, chlorpyrifos, is “likely to adversely affect” 1778 out of 1835 species studied in the report.

Dow AgroSciences, which produces chlorpyrifos, provided the letters to CNN after they were first published by the Associated Press. The other two pesticide makers asking the EPA for the reports to be withdrawn are Adama, which makes diazinon, and FMC Corporation, which makes malathion.

Dow AgroSciences contends that “no pest control product has been more thoroughly evaluated” than chlorpyrifos — and that it is used in nearly 100 nations.

Environmental groups like the Pesticide Action Network point to research linking chlorpyrifos, which has been registered for use in the US since 1965, to brain damage in children and want it banned.

In March 2017, with Pruitt at the helm, EPA denied a petition that would have banned its use on US crops.

The letters contain industry research which refutes the government’s findings and show how the industry is pushing its agenda.

Dow Chemical, whose CEO Andrew Liveris was tapped by Trump in December to lead his American Manufacturing Council, dismissed the concerns in a statement: “Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws. Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity.”

The letters will do little to assuage worries among environmental groups about Pruitt’s cozy relationship with industry and major corporations.

Emails from Pruitt’s time as the attorney general of Oklahoma, before he became the administrator of the EPA, show he and the energy industry worked very closely together.

But EPA refutes the notion that manufacturers have undue influence.

“We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking,” said J.P. Freire, EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs. “The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA’s regulations, while also reviewing past decisions.”