The Dow Chemical Company, a manufacturer of plastics, chemicals, and agricultural products, has asked the Trump administration to ignore studies from federal scientists about the environmental risks posed by organophosphates, a major class of pesticides. Critics note that Dow recently donated $1 million to help Trump’s inauguration ceremony.
Lawyers representing Dow and two other manufacturers of organophosphates sent letters last week to three members of Trump’s Cabinet imploring them “to set aside” research indicating that the pesticides are harmful to 1,800 endangered and critically threatened animal species. Dow claims that these findings are flawed and has asked the administration to scrap proposed environmental regulations. Dow hired its own scientists to rebut government studies.
Dow made its request after Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced last month he was reversing efforts from the previous administration to bar the use of Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even minor exposure could hinder the development of children’s brains, particularly in the regions “associated with functions like attention, decision-making, language, impulse control and working memory.” Dow has sold chlorpyrifos for spraying on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops since the 1960s; Dow sells about 5 million pounds of the pesticide domestically each year.
Pruitt, who sued the EPA 14 times to halt or modify pollution regulations while Attorney General of Oklahoma, declined to answer questions from reporters. An EPA spokesman told The Associated Press that Pruitt will not “prejudge” any decisions regarding environmental regulations as “we are trying to restore regulatory sanity to EPA’s work.”
“We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking,” said J.P. Freire, EPA’s Associate Administrator for Public Affairs. “The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA’s regulations, while also reviewing past decisions.”
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