Paraquat, Other Pesticides Targeted in Congressional Safety Bill

On Monday, a bill by Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. was announced, and it plans to ban the usage of three types of pesticides, as well as including additional workplace protections for the farmworkers harmed by these chemicals.

Booker’s bill is meant to modernize the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 1972 (FIFRA), and improve the safeguards for farmworkers through the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). The senator’s bill expresses, “The [EPA] regularly fails to incorporate updated scientific understanding to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of pesticide products, as envisioned by the [FIFRA], resulting in the use of billions of pounds of pesticides every year that were approved based on outdated science”.

The 42-page proposed legislation aims to ban the following pesticides: paraquat herbicides, neonicotinoid insecticides, and organophosphate insecticides. It states that these pesticides are damaging the habitats of endangered species and pollinators, in addition to affecting the health of children and agricultural workers, as they are known to lead to diseases such as heart and kidney failures among others.

The sale of any pesticide not authorized by the EPA with any of the specified pesticides would be removed with the senator’s bill. In addition, the bill will call for an expedited review of 72 pesticides that are banned in the European Union but sold currently in the U.S. This is in an effort to match the European standards.

Booker’s bill will also request an online system implemented by the EPA that ensures farmworkers can report pesticide injuries and incidents. It would be an anonymous system to protect whistleblowers from being held criminally liable by their employer for not reporting farmworker incidents.

J.W. Glass, EPA policy specialist at the Tucson, Arizona-based center states, “Children and farmworkers should not have to risk suffering serious harm from dangerous pesticides, including many that are banned in other countries”.

The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity calls it a long-overdue effort, and that it supports the proposed legislation.

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