Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"P" is for Precaution

The "P" in EPA is supposed to stand for protection. But precaution, prudence, and protection seem to be the last virtues upon which the agency bases its actions. Until February 21st, the EPA is accepting comments from the public on its current proposal to allow a carcinogenic chemical called methyl iodide to be used as a pesticide. According to this OCA report, the EPA's proposal would allow farmers to spray up to 400 lbs. of methyl iodide per acre of land. Apparently, this pesticide causes particular problems because it vaporizes quickly and floats through the air, drifting far distances.

So why should we care about methyl iodide drifting through the air we breathe? First, California considers this chemical to be cancer causing. Second, the EPA itself has said that it causes thyroid tumors. Third, I always vote for using the precautionary principle. And I want the government agencies that are charged with regulating environmental health to start exercising the same sort of prudent judgment. We may not have books full of double-blind, scientifically rigorous studies about every single agricultural pesticide or the interactions among those pesticides (check out this Enviroblog entry for info. about a recent Berkeley study about this). What we do have are many objective studies that show that the pesticides that are sprayed onto the ironically-termed conventional produce cause health problems for humans, the soil, and the birds, bees, insects, fish, and frogs that make their home near farms. Each one of us also knows many people who have suffered from cancer, and we stand helplessly by.

Why don't we start exercising common sense? Why do we persist in trying to outsmart Mother Nature? I just can't sit back believing that human beings can manufacture ways to subdue the earth's natural processes without suffering some dire consequences. Come to think of it, this latest move by the EPA gets at the heart of why I call myself an environmentalist. So I've taken a minute to learn more at the Pesticide Action Network's well-footnoted site and have sent a comment to the EPA. Won't you do the same?


  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Karen said…

    Thanks for the info. I went to the Pesticide Action Network's site and have sent a comment to the EPA.

  • At 12:19 PM, Blogger SustainableGirl said…

    I will check out your link and write to the EPA today. Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.

    As Joni Mitchell said, "Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, please." .... I would add to that: and please leave me my organs, and my peace of mind, and clean air to breathe, and leave it for my neighbor too!


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