Congressional Democrats proposed a bill that would transform the regulation of pesticides by immediately banning several chemical classes, adopting European and Canadian standards, allowing local governments to make rules, and empowering citizens to petition and sue for review.
The Protect America’s Children form Toxic Pesticides Act would mark the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. pesticide rules since 1996, according to its sponsors who say it would force action on substances considered dangerous to health and the environment. The plan would require the U.S Environmental Protection Agency to immediately suspend all pesticides banned in the European Union or Canada.
Any person would be able to sue to force a quick review of a pesticide that has not been evaluated for 15 years. The bill would also limit the EPA’s use of emergency exemptions and set up a mandatory national reporting system for injuries and other harm resulting from pesticides, which would trigger additional scrutiny.
“This bill updates our laws so that they adhere to the science,” said Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. “The United States sprays a total of over a billion pounds of pesticides each year on the food we feed to our children, exposing them to dangerous chemicals linked to brain damage and diseases like Parkinson’s. The farmworkers who feed our country face dangerous chemical exposure without recourse to protect their health.”
Their proposal has support from organizations representing farmworkers and environmentalists as well as a Parkinson’s advocacy group and organic food producers.
The Pesticide industry group CropLife America, blasted the plan as an end-run around the regulatory process Congress established in 1947.
“The law has been amended many times but continues to balance the risks and benefits of every pesticide on the market today,” CropLife CEO Chris Novak said in a statement. “Legislation seeking to ban individual chemistries undermines the work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s career scientists and tears at the fabric of a law that has served our nation well for more than 70 years.”
The 37-page bill heads to the Agriculture Committee in both chambers. It likely faces opposition in the Republican-led Senate, where Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts chairs the panel.