Attack of the Killer Weeds

Pesticide Hypocrisy on Capitol Hill

December 14, 1999

Attack of the Killer Weeds: News Release

For Immediate Release:

Contact: EWG Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982

December 14, 1999

53 in House, Senate Back Bill Invoking "Sound Science" to Block New Pesticide Protections, But Pressured Feds to Allow Pesticide Spraying that Ignored Sound Science

WASHINGTON- Fifty-three members of the House and Senate support a bill to block tougher pesticide standards because not enough "sound science" has been gathered to justify them, yet all 53 have individually pressured the federal government to permit poorly studied uses of dangerous pesticides under an abuse-ridden program.

"For these members, 'sound science' is just a sound bite to undermine children’s pesticide protections on behalf of the pesticide industry," said Todd Hettenbach, who conducted a four-month computer investigation for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that revealed this Congressional double standard. "It's a complete sham."

The 53 are part of 225 House and Senate supporters of a bill, HR1592 and S1464, that would virtually roll back children's pesticide protections legally mandated in the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), a landmark pesticide law that ordered a complete overhaul to the way the nation regulates pesticides.

The members have sought permission for the poorly studied pesticide uses under the Section 18 Program, established by the decades-old Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. It was created to help farmers facing "emergency" or "crisis" pest infestations by allowing use of pesticides in ways that circumvent normal procedures to assess pesticide usage health impacts. By definition, the Section 18 waivers are a hurried procedure, allowing pesticides to be used with little sound scientific study of the potential health effects.

The program has been criticized by Congressional and General Accounting Office investigations in each of the last three decades.

EWG findings, detailed in its report, Attack of the Killer Weeds(, show that:

  • Many of the "emergencies" have continued for five to seven years in a row and are often granted for such "crises" as weeds;
  • Despite FQPA's orders for tighter criteria for Section 18 exemptions, annual exemptions have climbed from approximately 300 before the law's passage to 573 in 1998; and,
  • On average, the 53 Reps and Senators in question took four times the pesticide industry contributions than members who haven’t sponsored the bill and haven't advocated Section 18 exemptions.

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