New EPA plan for hormone-harming pesticides sparks hope, but also skepticism

By Johnathan Hettinger

A new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan aimed at protecting the public from exposure to pesticides that harm reproductive health is sparking hope for advocates who have called for action for more than two decades, but skepticism remains high.

The EPA is accepting public comments on the plan, which could impact regulation of several widely used pesticides, until December 26. But key players in the agrochemical industry – as well as some environmental advocates – are asking the EPA to extend the deadline, citing the complexity and magnitude of the EPA’s proposal.

The long overdue strategy comes after litigation and multiple Inspector General probes exposed decades of EPA inaction to deal with evidence that many widely used pesticides are disrupting human hormones in ways that interfere with healthy pregnancies and cause an array of other harms.

“Generally, we’re very happy EPA is finally taking some action on this program,” said Jenny Loda, a staff attorney at the Center for Food Safety (CFS). Last year, CFS sued the EPA on behalf of farmworkers for failing to abide by the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) implemented by Congress as part of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.

Loda said that they will continue with their litigation, which has the potential to set court-ordered timelines on the EPA’s progress with the program.