Issue Brief: Science shouldn’t be politicized

Bob Mann headshot
Headshot: Bob Mann

Attempts by some lawmakers to apply political solutions to questions of science is a disturbing trend impacting the green industry. In the U.S., we have a scientific, legal and administrative framework to evaluate pesticides for safety and effectiveness. Before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants or renews registration to a product, extensive research is conducted so we can be confident it will not have adverse effects on the environment, people or pets.

Problems arise when politicians believe their personal political philosophies are more important than the evaluation process. For example, the insecticide chlorpyrifos was once a mainstay in horticulture, but in 2000, manufacturers agreed to change the labeling to exclude uses in and around the home, including landscapes.

Today, chlorpyrifos is a restricted-use pesticide, mostly confined to agriculture. However, last year, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) joined other senators to block reauthorization of the EPA’s ability to collect fees from pesticide manufacturers to support the Office of Pesticide Programs. Sen. Udall’s rationale was that he disagreed with the EPA’s decision to evaluate chlorpyrifos just as it would any other pesticide. He was willing to hold hostage the evaluation process until the EPA banned chlorpyrifos immediately.

Neonicotinoid insecticides are also under assault in many states. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is similarly targeted. You may or may not use any of these products, but the tactics being used should be concerning—eventually they’ll be coming for products that you rely upon.

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