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97% of Endangered Species Threatened by 3 Common Pesticides

Animals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its first-ever analysis on the effects of three common pesticideschlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion—on endangered and threatened species and designated critical habitat nationwide. The resounding conclusion? Pesticides are terrible for them.


According to the report, malathion and chlorpyrifos harms an astounding 97 percent of the 1,782 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. Diazinon harms 79 percent.

Malathion is often used on fruit, vegetables and plants for pests, as well tick removal on pets. Chlorpyrifos is used to exterminate termites, mosquitoes and roundworms. Diazinon is used against cockroaches and ants.

The three chemicals species are “likely to adversely affect" these species, the EPA found.

“For the first time in history, we finally have data showing just how catastrophically bad these pesticides are for endangered species—from birds and frogs to fish and plants," Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These dangerous pesticides have been used without proper analysis for decades, and now's the time to take this new information and create common-sense measures to protect plants, animals and people from these chemicals."

“The EPA has allowed chemical companies to register more than 16,000 pesticides without properly considering their impacts. That has to stop," Burd said. “These evaluations are a huge step forward for the EPA. Now that we know the magnitude of danger these pesticides pose, it's clear we need to take action. The EPA must move forward with analyses for other dangerous pesticides and also quickly implement on-the-ground efforts to prevent the extinction of rare and unique wildlife from these pesticides."

Organophosphates aren't just bad for wildlife, a number of studies have linked them to human health risks. According to the Center for Biological Diversity:

Organophosphates are widely used in agriculture on crops such as corn, cotton, watermelon and wheat. A recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that an astonishing 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested had detectable levels of an organophosphate. Early childhood exposure to organophosphates has been linked to cognitive delay and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Organophosphates were also used as nerve agents in chemical warfare and have been linked to Gulf War syndrome, which causes fatigue, headaches, skin problems and breathing disorders.

Additionally, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer also said last March that malathion and diazinon are classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans."

The Center for Biological Diversity, as well as a number of farmworker, child-safety and environmental advocacy groups, sent a letter to the EPA last month urging it to ban several organophosphate pesticides that are currently under review.

“These pesticides pose unacceptably high risks to children, workers and wildlife, and really can't be used safely," Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “In this letter farmworkers, child-safety and consumer advocates have spoken with one voice, asking the EPA to ban these relics of our toxic past."

The EPA has released the analysis for public comment. Following the comment period, the EPA will finalize the assessment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service will use the analyses and data from the biological evaluations in their final "Biological Opinions" for each of the three chemicals, the EPA said.

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"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."

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In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."

"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.

Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

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