AOTW: Tell Your Members of Congress: EPA Must Evaluate Impact of Pesticide Mixtures!
A new report released several weeks ago by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recommends that the agency must collect and assess information on pesticide mixtures and synergistic effects in order to improve oversight over pesticide registrations and management of herbicide resistance. Synergy results when the mixture of chemicals creates effects greater than the aggregation of individual effects, leading to underestimated toxic impacts on human and environmental health. EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention states it will consider how best to use synergistic effects data for pesticide registration decisions by 2019. This is not soon enough!
In addition to issues around synergy, the OIG’s report also finds a lack of communication and collaboration between the EPA and its public and private stakeholders regarding herbicide resistance management. The report also notes that EPA does not have measures to track its progress addressing and slowing the spread of herbicide resistance.
To address growing weed resistance, EPA has endorsed a strategy to combat weeds that have become resistant to a particular herbicide brought on by the widespread use on GE crops. The strategy generally involves the use of multiple herbicides with differing modes of action, often within a single product. Additionally, farmers are being encouraged to spray their fields with multiple herbicides. However, the effects of these herbicide mixtures have not been fully evaluated and risks are underestimated when registering a pesticide. As the crisis in weed resistance escalates, threatening crop productivity and profitability, organic agriculture remains as a solution that protects public health, the environment, and farmers’ livelihood.