EU, Brazil and China have banned way more harmful pesticides than the USA

pesticide use
© Fotokostic

For example, 72 pesticides approved for use in the United States are banned or in the process of being phased out in the European Union.

Oh, America, you and your amber waves of grain. Why must those waves be so drenched in harmful pesticides??

While you might hope that a successful democracy would have safeguards in place to protect people from things like, you know, poison. Well, nope. And a new study study published in the open access journal Environmental Health spells it all out.

Many pesticides that have been banned or are being phased out in the EU, Brazil and China, are still widely used in the U.S., according to the research. And alas, I suppose that's probably not much a surprise.

Study author Nathan Donley at the Center for Biological Diversity said: "The USA is generally regarded as being highly regulated and having protective pesticide safeguards in place. This study contradicts that narrative and finds that in fact, in the last couple of decades, nearly all pesticide cancellations in the USA have been done voluntarily by the pesticide industry. Without a change in the US Environmental Protection Agency's current reliance on voluntary mechanisms for cancellations, the USA will likely continue to lag behind its peers in banning harmful pesticides."

The big idea behind less regulations is that the industries are responsible enough to regulate themselves. And indeed, that many pesticide cancellations have been instigated by the industry would speak to that. It all sounds good on paper, but in the fields, it's another story; the numbers are not encouraging. From the study:

"Of the 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used in US agriculture in 2016, approximately 322 million pounds were pesticides banned in the EU, 40 million pounds were pesticides banned in China and nearly 26 million pounds were pesticides banned in Brazil."

When Donley looked at pesticides that are approved for agricultural use in the U.S. and compared them to pesticides approved in the EU, China and Brazil, he found:

• 72 pesticides approved for use in the U.S. are banned or in the process of being phased out in the EU
• 17 pesticides approved for use in the U.S. are banned or in the process of being phased out in Brazil
• 11 pesticides approved for use in the U.S. are banned or in the process of being phased out in China

Donley notes the difference between how the U.S. is handling pesticides in comparison to the others, saying, "These findings suggest that the USA utilizes voluntary, industry-initiated cancellation as the primary method of prohibiting pesticides, which is different from the non-voluntary, regulator-initiated cancellations / bans that are predominant in the EU, Brazil and China."

He adds that voluntary cancellations can lead to a "significantly longer phase-out period than the typical one year period for most non-voluntarily cancelled pesticides."

EU, Brazil and China have banned way more harmful pesticides than the USA
For example, 72 pesticides approved for use in the United States are banned or in the process of being phased out in the EU.

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