CORRECTION: In the last PANUPS (California Update,
10/18/1996), we made an incorrect statement regarding Dr.
Robert Holtzer. Dr. Holtzer did not state that preliminary
findings in the Lompoc health study showed pesticides to be
causing high rates of lung and bronchus cancer or increased
respiratory illnesses in Lompoc, but rather that the
preliminary hospital discharge data are compatible with
increased rates of lung and bronchus cancer and increased
respiratory illnesses in the Lompoc area. However, the data
need further assessment and confirmation.
October 28, 1996
U.S. Court Rules Inert Ingredients Must Be Disclosed
A U.S. federal district court ruled this month that pesticide
companies must disclose information about inert ingredients
in six pesticide products. The suit, filed in 1994 by the
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and
the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides
(NCAMP), charged that the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) must disclose the common names and CAS* numbers
of inert ingredients in these pesticides under the Freedom of
Information Act. The pesticides named in the suit were Aatrex
80W (atrazine), Weedone LV4 (2,4-D), Roundup (glyphosate),
Velpar (haxazinone), Garlon 3A (triclopyr) and Tordon 101
(picloram and 2,4-D).
Manufacturers are already required to provide EPA with names
of all pesticide ingredients including inerts, but EPA
routinely witholds this information from the public because
of industry claims that the information is subject to trade
secrecy laws. The plaintiffs argued that EPA wrongfully
accepted manufacturers' blanket claims of confidentiality
without first ascertaining that the inerts in the six
pesticide products qualified as trade secrets. Inerts are
chemicals used in pesticide products to increase efficacy and
ease of use.
EPA was joined in the defense by American Crop Protection
Association (ACPA), an industry trade group representing
manufacturers whose products will be affected by the ruling.
These manufacturers include Ciba Geigy, DowElanco, DuPont,
Monsanto and Rhone Poulenc.
The District Judge ruled that neither defendent demonstrated
that the common names or CAS numbers of inert ingredients are
trade secrets. While the decision applies directly only to
the six named pesticides, the plaintiffs believe that the
decision will ultimately force EPA to release inert
ingredient information for other pesticides.
In a recent press release, ACPA downplayed the impact of the
ruling. According to an ACPA vice-president, the group is
"pleased that protection of confidential commercial
information concerning inert ingredients was upheld on a
case-by-case basis. The decision essentially represents
Representatives of NCAP and NCAMP disputed the trade group's
assertion, however, pointing out that the court's opinion
sets a precedent that inerts are not exempt from the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA). In addition, NCAMP Executive
Director Jay Feldman stated that "until now EPA has been
rubberstamping claims of confidentiality -- now EPA will have
to create a system for evaluating such claims."
Though the name "inert" implies these chemicals do not have
significant impacts, inert ingredients may cause a range of
environmental and toxicological problems including cancer,
reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and acute poisoning.
EPA has conceded that it does not have the information to
assess the toxicity of more than three-quarters of the
chemicals used as inerts. The majority of ingredients in many
pesticide products are so-called "inerts" -- up to 99% in
some cases. According to NCAMP, there are more than 2,300
inert substances added to pesticide products.
The herbicide Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto and marketed
as an "environmentally friendly" chemical, is a case in which
some of the known inert ingredients in some formulations have
far greater toxicity than the active ingredient (glyphosate).
Two of these ingredients, isopropylamine and polyethoxylated
tallowamines (POEAs), cause a range of health problems
including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, burns, excess
fluids in the lungs and eye, skin and gastrointestinal
irritation. Glyphosate products were the third leading cause
of both acute pesticide poisoning and skin and eye illnesses
among California farm workers between 1984 and 1990.
* CAS refers to the Chemical Abstracts Service, an
international journal that assigns numbers to chemicals for
Sources: "Court Rules That EPA Must Disclose Secret
Ingredients in Pesticides," NCAP/NCAMP Press Release, October
17, 1996; Daily Environment Reporter, October 18, 1996;
Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1995; Jay Feldman, personal
communication, October 25, 1996; "Court Ruling Grants Inerts
Case-by-Case Confidentiality Protection," ACPA Press Release,
October 24, 1996; Preventing Pesticide-Related Illness in
California Agriculture, 1993. William Pease, et.al.
Contacts: NCAP, P.O. Box 1393, Eugene, OR 97440; phone (541)
344-5044; fax (541) 344-6923; email email@example.com; NCAMP, 701
E Street, SE, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20003; phone (202)
543-5450; fax (202) 543-4791; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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