17/08/2011

Lesson for NZ: New Herbicide Withdrawn As Side Effects Disclosed

 

CORRECTION CLARIFICATION BELOW

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed an immediate ban on sales of a herbicide it approved less than a year ago. The herbicide Imprelis, marketed by Du Pont, is used on golf courses and recreational areas to manage broad leaf weeds, but has caused severe damage to many tree species leading to the immediate ban.

However, previous research showing problems caused by the product had not been disclosed until now, casting further doubts on the process of regulation for chemicals and GMO's that relies on applicants' own data.

Du Pont has since provided over 7000 cases to the EPA showing that their studies had identified the herbicide caused damage to trees. These findings appear to have been withheld when the EPA evaluated Du Pont's submission to approve the herbicide.

The case shows again that there are serious risks to people and the environment emerging because of commercial pressure on Governmental Agencies to approve deleterious products. There is dangerous lack of regulatory independence as a result of the 'revolving door' which embeds former company employees as the officials in charge of regulating those same companies.

The active ingredient in Imprelis, aminocyclopyrachlor, is a synthetic plant hormone (auxin). It is highly toxic to aquatic life and even grass clippings that have been sprayed must not be composted. It works as a systemic non-specific broad leaf herbicide killing plants within a few hours. Complete death of the weeds may require four to six weeks. Very small, non visible amounts of spray drift have been found to seriously damage non target broadleaf plants.

Concern about the lack of data provision on environmental safety has direct parallels in the information provided to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for its impending approval for GE corn and soy containing two GE proteins engineered into the plants to withstand the Dow AgroSciences chemical herbicide 2, 4-D and glufosinate cocktail**.

The herbicide 2,4-D has a similar synthetic auxin plant hormone. Yet FSANZ has closed submissions on these applications citing no safety data or concerns that the approval will increase toxicity in food.

“It is not clear if FSANZ have simply ignored the issue, and the effects of synthetic hormones have not been investigated, or if the data have been withheld, and kept secret because of evidence of negative health effects,” says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free NZ in Food and Environment.

“This latest and almost unprecedented product recall of Imprelis shows it is possible that signifiant data has been deliberately withheld from authorities responsible for regulation of new GE foods. It is alarming that only one study was cited by FSANZ reporting animal feeding tests,” says Mrs. Bleakley.

FSANZ are failing in the responsibilities unless they immediately halt approval and require further long term safety data on the effects of eating food that is sprayed with a dioxin-producing synthetic plant hormone chemical, 2, 4-D.

ENDS

Claire Bleakley 06 -3089842 / 027 3486731

References:

Civil Enforcement EPA, http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/fifra/dupontimprelis.html

DuPont knew about damage, studies show http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110813/BUSINESS/108130307/DuPont-knew-about-damage-studies-show?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CHome%7Cs

EPA halts sale of DuPont's Imprelis herbicide

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/11/us-dupont-imprelis-idUSTRE77A4VS20110811

The Facts on Imprelis http://www.imprelis-facts.com/the-facts/

Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Agree to Cross License Next-Generation Soybean Herbicide Tolerant Traits
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dow-agrosciences-dupont-agree-to-cross-license-next-generation-soybean-herbicide-tolerant-traits-69843402.html

** GE Free NZ in Food and Environment would like to apologise for the comment that Du Pont is a subsidary of Dow Chemical company. This is inaccurate as DuPont is not and has never been owned or jointly owned by The Dow Chemical Company. It meant to read Dow and DuPont have a cross license agreement for the next generation herbicide 2,4-D tolerant traits.

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