Letter to The Editor, Dow Chemical and the Food Quality Protection Act
From: Consumer Union Washington, D. C. Office

Letters to the Editor                                                                                                                                         April 2, 1998
USA Today
1000 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, Virginia 22229

To the Editor:

The defense of the toxic product Dursban by its manufacturer, Dow Agrosciences, in a recent letter is misleading and cries out for rebuttal. ["Pesticide column recommendations unwarranted," March 25, 1998]

By failing to mention that Dursban is similar to many other toxic pesticides that EPA must now regulate as a group, and that kids are exposed to these pesticides not just from home use but also through food and other sources, this chemical company tells your readers that Dursban has been given a clean bill of health. In fact, no such determination has been made by EPA.

Dursban, is used in homes, schools, office buildings and on pets, is also among the oldest and most commonly used pesticides in agriculture. It is in a class of chemicals that are all similar in that they poison humans by interfering with the central nervous system. The National Academy of Sciences tell us the developing brain and central nervous system of infants and children may make them particularly vulnerable to these toxics, but few chemicals are tested by the EPA to determine the effects of childhood exposure on learning and memory.

A new law, not yet implemented, requires EPA to review Dursban, and all other pesticides, to determine if the product is safe for kids. The Food Quality Protection Act requires that all pesticides which share a similar way of poisoning humans such as Dursban and 44 other pesticides like it -- be regulated as a group. Because people are likely exposed to many of these chemicals each day, EPA must now set a single safe limit on exposure for the entire group. Dursban has not yet been reevaluated under this new strict standard. Also, for the first time, the burden of proving a chemical safe is placed on the chemical companies, not on kids.

Consumers Union hopes the efforts of powerful chemical industry lobbyists to cloud the debate don't hinder EPA's efforts to implement this important new law.


Jeannine Kenney

Pesticide Policy Advocate
Consumers Union

cc: Chairman of the Board, Dow Chemical, Midland, Michigan
Craig Borrow, Regulatory Affairs, Dow Agro Sciences, Washington, D.C.
George Oliver, Global Risk Assessment Exposure Group, Indianapolis, IN

see also Dursban article in latest press clippings section

All information 1998 Consumers Union