It has taken more than a decade of wrangling but the Environmental Protection Agency has finally said pesticide makers must disclose the hidden ingredients in their poisons.
Yesterday, the agency said it was drafting a new rule which will require manufacturers to fess up and identify the estimated 4,000 different “inert” materials in their pesticides.
Marla Cone, the Editor in Chief of Environmental Health News, writes that inert ingredients as anything added to a pesticide that does not kill or control a pest.
“In some cases, those ingredients are toxic and cites formaldehyde, bisphenol A, sulfuric acid, toluene, benzene and styrene as some of the ingredients that are allowed in pesticides but that are not identified on labels.
Pesticide manufacturers and their lobbyists have been voracious and successful in stalling disclosure of these chemicals.
They said they are worried about disclosing proprietary or trade secrets, but health and environmental activists say the companies really fear how the public will react to the information on what’s actually in the widely used pest, weed and fungal poisons.
For example, Cone wrote that a recent study found that one inert substance, called polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, used in the popular herbicide Roundup is more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself.
Year after year, EPA denied or ignored petitions from public health and environmental activists and the attorneys general in at least ten states seeking disclosure of the chemicals. But now the new administration says it plans to draft a rule that will increase transparency, protect public health and encourage companies to replace toxic substances.
“EPA believes disclosure of inert ingredients on product labels is important to consumers who want to be aware of all potentially toxic chemicals, both active and inert ingredients, in pesticide products,” according to the agency’s website.
Jay Vroom, the boss of CropLife America, which is the public voice of the pesticide manufacturers, said he found the EPA decision “just baffling.”
He again told EHN’s Cone that his clients are concerned they will be revealing confidential business information, or trade secrets, about their formulas.
Here is a link to the EPA announcement.