Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 27, 2017

Contact: Lori Ann Burd, (971) 717-6405,

Public Records Sought on Dow's Attempts to Sabotage Pesticide Assessments

 Trump's EPA Considering Company's Request to Abandon Reviews of Pesticides Likely to Harm Virtually All 1,800 Protected Species

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted Freedom of Information Act requests today seeking public records from five federal agencies to assess whether they may allow Dow Chemical to derail studies of three pesticides likely to harm virtually all U.S. protected species.

In April the Center learned that Dow had asked the EPA and federal wildlife agencies to stop work to assess and mitigate harms to protected species from the pesticides chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon.

Now the EPA and wildlife agencies have failed to meet key deadlines for completing those legally required consultations, indicating the process has stalled.   

“It's deplorable that the Trump administration might scrap four years of work to protect our most endangered plants and animals from these dangerous pesticides,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center. “When all the facts are revealed, the American public won't stand for Trump's EPA bowing down to Dow.”

Today's FOIA requests were sent to the Departments of Commerce and Interior, the EPA, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services. The agencies have already invested nearly four years in these assessments, the first of their kind. The federal government agreed to complete the consultations as part of a 2014 legal settlement with the Center.

In January the EPA released its first rigorous nationwide analysis of the effects of these three pesticides on endangered species, finding that 97 percent of the more than 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act are likely to be harmed by malathion and chlorpyrifos. Another 78 percent are likely to be hurt by the pesticide diazinon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services were supposed to release their opinions on the analyses, and common-sense measures to reduce the pesticides' harm to endangered species, for public comment in May. 

Over the past six years, Dow has donated $11 million to congressional campaigns and political action committees and spent an additional $75 million lobbying Congress. In January 2017 Dow was one of three companies that donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration. President Trump named Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris head of his American Manufacturing Council. Liveris, in turn, said Trump is making the United States “not a red-tape country, but a red-carpet country for America's businesses.”

Trump, who referred to Liveris as “my friend Andrew,” gave Liveris the ceremonial pen used to sign the executive order mandating that agencies create so-called “regulatory reform task forces.” Shortly thereafter the EPA shocked public-health advocates by abruptly scrapping a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, which is known to cause brain damage in children.  

“After the EPA's shocking about-face on the chlorpyrifos ban, we're deeply concerned that the Trump administration is doing another favor for its good friends at Dow,” said Burd. “The documents unearthed by this request will reveal whether Trump's EPA is selling out America's endangered species and  public health just to satisfy one of the country's biggest pesticide peddlers.”

More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States and the EPA has registered more than 18,000 different pesticides for use. Extensive scientific studies show widespread and pervasive pesticide contamination of groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.

Many EPA-approved pesticides are linked to cancer and other severe health effects in humans. Some pesticides can act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with natural hormones, damaging reproductive function and offspring and causing developmental, neurological and immune problems in wildlife and humans. Endocrine-disrupting pesticides cause sexual deformities such as intersex fish (with male and female parts) that cannot reproduce.

Five million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used in the United States every year on crops such as corn, peanuts, plums and wheat. A recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that an alarming 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested had detectable levels of chlorpyrifos. Around 1 million pounds of malathion are used each year. In addition to being neurotoxins, both malathion and diazinon are considered probable human carcinogens by the World Health Organization.

Early childhood exposure to organophosphates has been linked to cognitive delay and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Organophosphates were used as nerve agents in chemical warfare and have been linked to Gulf War syndrome, which causes fatigue, headaches, skin problems and breathing disorders. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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