DuPont Receives 30,000 Claims for Tree-Killing Pesticide
The agribusiness conglomerate DuPont has received more than 30,000 damage claims arising from its sale of a pesticide that resulted in death and injury to hundreds of thousands of evergreen trees, particularly Norway spruce and white pine. DuPont marketed the pesticide, sold under the trade name Imprelis, based on a conditional registration that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted in 2010.
Soon after Imprelis became commercially available the next spring, EPA began receiving widespread reports of tree death and injury from landscapers and residential users who had applied the pesticide according to its label conditions. EPA issued an immediate stop sale order for Imprelis on August 11, 2011 after DuPont submitted reports of more than 7,000 reports of tree damage.
The New York Times reports that DuPont has set aside $225 million for claims that have already been submitted, and that the payout could ultimately reach $575 million. These figures do not include costs related to a class-action lawsuit filed by thousands of homeowners, landscapers and others, consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia. Some claimants are frustrated by the pace of the claims process and communications from the company.
“We’re hearing nothing,” said Janet DaPrato of Columbus, Ohio, who had two trees die last year and has had two more die since. “We put in a claim for two trees, and now the problem is getting worse.”
Conditional registration is allowed under Section 3(c)(7) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act prior to the registrant submitting all statutorily required data. EPA is authorized to grant a conditional registration on the assumption that no unreasonable adverse effects on environmental and human health will result. As the case of Imprelis confirms, conditional registration actually allows EPA to bypass statutory safeguards and rush pesticides with unknown and unevaluated risks to market. It often takes years before EPA receives the relevant data, and sometimes that data is not submitted before the 15-year reregistration review cycle required for all pesticides.
EPA’s decision to grant conditional registration to the systemic insecticide clothianidin further illustrates the dangers of approving a pesticide before completing a rigorous and comprehensive appraisal of its risks. EPA granted a conditional registration to clothianidin in 2003 despite the absence of a required field study satisfying the statutory requirement that the pesticide not impose “unreasonable adverse risks” to pollinators, including honey bees. Nine years later, EPA still lacks an acceptable study satisfying this legal requirement yet the agency continues to allow the widespread use of clothianidin and similar neonicotinoid insecticides. Substantial new research is emerging that neonicotinoid insecticides have cumulative, sublethal effects on bees including neurobehavioral and immune system disruptions that are contributing to the Colony Collapse Disorder that is decimating bee hives globally. To take action to reverse the catastrophic damage caused by clothianidin and other neonicotinoid insecticides, visit Beyond Pesticide’s Pollinators and Pesticides webpage.
The active ingredient in Imprelis, aminocyclopyrachlor, is biologically active in soil and rapidly absorbed by roots and leaves. Aminocyclopyrachlor is in the chemical class of the pyrimidine carboxylic acids, which is similar to pyridine carboxylic acid herbicides that includes the herbicides aminopyralid, clopyralid and picloram.
The two classes of herbicides share characteristics, including high persistence in the environment, systemic incorporation into plants and high toxicity during seedling emergence. The pyridine carboxylic acid herbicides are so persistent that they resist breakdown even when passing through the gut of ruminants that consume forage on which the pesticides have been applied. Organic farmers and gardeners have linked herbicide-contaminated manure and compost obtained from non-organic farms and dairies to severe crop damages.
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As protests are taking place across our nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, we want to acknowledge the importance of this protest and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the years, we've aimed to be sensitive and prioritize stories that highlight the intersection between racial and environmental injustice. From our years of covering the environment, we know that too often marginalized communities around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental crises.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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