P A N U P S
Pesticide Action Network
Environmentalists, Labor, U.S. Government Announce Agreement
to Phase Out Dozens of Cancer-Causing Pesticides
October 14, 1994
The U.S. government will begin phasing out uses of 36
pesticides that are known to cause cancer and which until now
have been allowed as residues in juices, canned fruits and
vegetables, cooking oil and other processed foods, according
to a far-reaching settlement announced on October 12, 1994.
Parties to the settlement are the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC), AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, a California farm
worker, the state of California and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
The agreement settles a lawsuit brought in 1989 by NRDC and
the other groups against the EPA, alleging that the agency
routinely allows residues of cancer-causing pesticides in
numerous processed foods, in violation of the Delaney clause
of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. The Delaney Clause
prohibits additives in processed foods that have been found
to "induce cancer in man or animal."
The 36 pesticides include some of the most widely used on the
market. Among them, and the uses for which they will be
eliminated, are alachlor, an herbicide used on soybeans and
peanuts; benomyl, a fungicide used on apples, citrus, grapes,
rice and tomatoes; captan, a fungicide used on grapes, plums
and tomatoes; mancozeb, a fungicide used on cereal grains and
grapes; and dicofol, an insecticide used on many kinds of
fruits and tomatoes. (For a list of the 36 pesticides, see
The settlement also calls for the EPA to review within five
years an additional 49 cancer-causing pesticides to determine
whether they, too, should be eliminated from certain uses.
They will be proscribed if they are found in processed
products at higher concentrations than raw food. (For a list
of these 49 pesticides, please contact PANNA.)
The agreement will be submitted for approval to the U.S.
District Court in Sacramento at a hearing later this fall.
Prior to the hearing, the pesticide industry will have an
opportunity to comment on the settlement. The settlement
comes two years after the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of
Appeals upheld the validity of the Delaney Clause. Acting on
a test case brought by NRDC and others, the court ruled that
carcinogens cannot be present in processed foods. This
settlement implements the ruling for dozens of chemicals on a
host of crops.
In addition to starting to rid the nation's food supply of
cancer-causing chemicals, and reducing dangers to farm
workers, the agreement should also help protect water
supplies from pesticide contamination. Agricultural
chemicals are one of the biggest water pollutants, and the
EPA has found that one of every ten public water supply wells
in the U.S. contains at least one pesticide.
Critics of the Delaney Clause have said that some residues
should be allowed in food if the risk of cancer is "minimal."
"As this settlement shows, the number of cancer-causing
pesticides that are on the market and the number of crops and
foods they are found in is not minimal," said Jennifer
Curtis, NRDC senior research associate. "Every day people
unknowingly consume not just one chemical, but a hodgepodge
of dangerous chemicals along with their food. And no one --
including the EPA and pesticide industry -- knows the
cumulative effects of these chemicals in combination,
especially on children. That's why a policy of prevention
remains valid, enforceable and practical," Curtis added.
According to the settlement, 90 food uses of the following 36
carcinogenic pesticides will be phased out within two years:
Source: NRDC Press Release, October 12, 1994.
Contact: Jennifer Curtis, NRDC, 71 Stevenson Street, San
Francisco, CA 94105; phone (415) 777-0220; fax (415) 495-
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