Does the government even pass a bill anymore unless it benefits mega corporations and places profits over people?
Now, a rider protecting Dow Chemical’s sulfuryl fluoride pesticide (known by the market name Vikane) has found its way into the 2014 House Appropriations Bill to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from phasing out the chemical’s use on the U.S. food supply.
In 2011, the EPA announced tolerance levels for the chemical fumigant sulfuryl fluoride would be phased out:
“Sulfuryl fluoride is currently registered for the control of insect pests in stored grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, coffee and cocoa beans, and for use in food handling and processing facilities. Although sulfuryl fluoride residues in food contribute only a very small portion of total exposure to fluoride, when combined with other fluoride exposure pathways, including drinking water and toothpaste, EPA has concluded that the tolerance (legal residue limits on food) no longer meets the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and the tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride should be withdrawn.”
Finally acknowledging that children were already exposed to too much fluoride as it is through toothpastes and fluoridated water supplies (not to mention food grown with those water supplies which tend to have high fluoride contents as well), the EPA ruled to withdraw all tolerance levels for sulfuryl fluoride. A University of California study just came out recently that showed 100 percent of the 364 kids involved were found to have exposure to dioxins, pesticides and more that met or exceeded cancer level benchmarks.
The phase out began in 2011 was set to take three years, thus the clock is winding down on Dow’s fluoride product being sprayed all over our food. In response, Dow, one of the largest pesticide producers in the world, put out a none-too-thrilled press release.
What Is It?
Sulfuryl fluoride is a chemical that breaks down into an inorganic fluoride compound. The product label on it reads, “Do not expose to non-target organisms. This pesticide is toxic to fish and wildlife.” Negative health and environmental effects include neurotoxicity, reproductive, and birth and developmental issues. It’s also a potent greenhouse gas. Apparently the U.S. and Australia are the only two industrialized countries that even actually allow this stuff to be sprayed on people’s food.
To give you an idea of how much of this stuff is being put on your food in a given year, an exposure risk characterization document out of California’s EPA claims the state used 3,045,084 pounds of sulfuryl fluoride in 2002 alone (and that’s just one state).
Dow’s Rider in the 2014 House Appropriations Bill
Dow has already tried to use it’s lobbying power to find a way to block the EPA and keep spraying their chemicals on our food by persuading 15 Congress members to introduce the Pest Free Food Supply Act (H.R.1496):
“If passed, the bill would make the United States one of only two western nations to allow sulfuryl fluoride on food, increase the number of American children ingesting unsafe levels of fluoride, and create a food poisoning risk for consumers who purchase food that contains permissible levels of the fumigant. The act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and 14 others, seeks to prevent the proposed phaseout of sulfuryl fluoride from taking effect.”
According to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Dow also attempted to thwart the phase out in the most recent Farm Bill. That trick didn’t work either. Curiously, we now have Section 449 in the 2014 House Appropriations Bill which states:
“SEC. 449. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to prepare and finalize an order under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 346a) that in any way removes, withdraws, revokes, or stays tolerances for the pesticide chemical sulfuryl fluoride if that final order takes into consideration aggregate or cumulative exposure to other substances related to sulfuryl fluoride or its metabolites or degradates pursuant to sections 408(b)(2)(A), 408(b)(2)(C), 408(b)(2)(D)(v), and 408(b)(2)(D)(vi) of such Act (21 U.S.C. 346a (b)(2)(A), 346a(b)(2)(C), 346a(b)(2)(D)(v), and 346a(b)(2)(D)(vi)). Dow”
This basically says the EPA CANNOT stop this stuff — a chemical lovingly brought to us from the same company that (along with Monsanto) gave us Agent Orange — from being used on our food! It’s dirty-handed and downright despicable.
Contact Your Rep and Try to Get This Stopped!
The House Committee on Appropriations’ subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies is currently considering this piece of legislation. Obviously the system is a broken piece of corporatist trash, but it won’t hurt to try and raise Hell to our representatives to get this stopped. It is currently being reported that the Monsanto Protection Act may be repealed because of the work of activists; maybe we can keep this from happening too!
The Fluoride Action Network has set up a pre-written letter you can email your representatives today.
It’s time we asked ourselves: when is the last time a piece of federal legislation had our best interests in mind? Is every single bill in this country rife with sneaky back doors that are basically written to benefit corporations and put profits above people?
Makes me sick (probably literally).