Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump’s war on junk science

Angela Logomasini

According to many news outlets, President Donald Trump has “declared a war on science.” Yet judging from at least one recent decision, the opposite is true. The Trump administration is trying to prevent policies based on junk science. A key example is the Trump administration’s denial of an activist petition to ban agricultural uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which farmers have safely used for decades. This decision makes sense when you consider the history. Residential uses of chlorpyrifos, such as for bug spray, were phased out starting in 2000, but not because it was proven dangerous. Rather, chemical company Dow Agrosciences voluntarily phased out home uses because Environmental Protection Agency regulations proved too expensive and onerous, making the product unprofitable. In 2007, the Pesticide Action Network (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the EPA to ban agricultural uses of this chemical. EPA began a safety review in 2009, which is required every 15 years, and indicated it would answer the petition as part of that review. But since such reviews take many years, activists sued for a quicker decision, and a court ordered EPA to make a final decision by March 2017. At first, EPA appeared to be moving toward approval. But the agency suddenly shifted course in 2016, deciding to base its risk assessment on a single study produced by Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH). EPA’s reliance on this study proved problematic and unwarranted for multiple reasons, including an activist agenda among the researchers involved, weak findings and a seriously flawed study design...more

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