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A New List of Carcinogenic Pesticides Used on Food

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released a compilation of pesticides used on food crops that are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as potential carcinogens. (See table.) The list contains 68 pesticides and is roughly evenly divided between herbicides, fungicides and insecticides (including miticides).

Some of the pesticides on the list are frequently used. The four most commonly used pesticides In the United States (by weight) are on the list: atrazine, alachlor, metalochlor, and 1,3 dichloropropene. In ail, EPA's list of the twenty most commonly used pesticides includes seven potential carcinogens with a total estimated use of 365 million pounds per year.2

NRDC obtained the list of potential carcinogens during the discovery phase of a suit asking that EPA be required to enforce the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Delaney Clause prohibits food additives that induce cancer and requires the same standard for pesticides if they concentrate in processed food above the levers found on raw commodities. EPA policy has been to regulate food use pesticides based on a "negligible risk" standard rather than the zero risk standard of the Delaney Clause.3 The US. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of NRDC's suit last summer.4

Caroline Cox

1. Curtis, 1 1992. Food use pesticides currently classified by EPA as potential carcinogens. San Francisco, CA.: National Resources Defense Council. Unpublished list. (November 3.)

2. US. EPA Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1992 Pesticide industry sales and usage 1990 and 1991 market estimates. Washington, D.C

3. U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1990. Environmental fact sheet. The Delaney paradox and negligible risk. Washington, D.C (January.)

4. National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. 1992. US. Court of Appeals upholds Delaney Clause. NCAMP's Technical Report 7(8):1.

Citation for this article: Cox, Caroline. 1992, " A new list of carcinogenic pesticides used in food". Vol. 12, No. 4, Winter 1992, pp. 28.

Copyright 1992 Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.

Reprinted with permission.


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