Economic growth, not safety, driving pesticide regulation

The science is clear that biocides pose threats to people and our environment. Every year we learn more about the impacts of exposure to pesticides and herbicides, and we find that there are substantial risks especially for exposure for children and pregnant mothers.

The EPA and the federal and state agencies tasked with regulating pesticides and chemicals are absolutely failing to do so. Much of this is shaped in the interest of economic growth, not safety.

The regulatory process misses or ignores many effects all together and often doesn’t take into consideration any ecological impacts or long-term, chronic, low-level exposure to these biocides (such as that to which a child growing up utilizing a regularly sprayed sports field may be exposed).

Pesticides are registered while important health and safety data is still being generated. Reevaluations of old pesticides mandated by laws passed in the 1970s are still incomplete. Pesticides may continue to be used after evidence of their hazards is given to EPA. And pesticides may never be required to be tested for certain kinds of hazards. These are some of the other failures of the federal regulation of pesticides.

One way in which corporations registering their biocides manipulate the regulatory processes is through the conditional registration exemption. Under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act), the EPA can allow “conditional registration” of new pesticide products even though health and safety tests are missing (FIFRA Sec. 3(c)(7)) because “requiring completion of all the tests would put new products at an economic disadvantage to older pesticides.”

It is very clear that it’s absolutely designed for economic purposes and not for the protection or safety of the community or environment. See

Due to the design of the EPA pesticide regulatory system, chemical corporations that produce these herbicides are in essence self-regulating their products as they conduct the testing of safety and only submit their findings to the EPA for approval. The pesticide registration with the EPA is no guarantee of safety, and in fact provides a false sense of safety where there is none.

Regulatory agencies are simply unable to do the job they are tasked with in some cases because of underfunding and staffing issues and in some cases because of the purposeful design of the system and its loopholes.

This outline from the government’s own website outlines why the EPA has failed to monitor and track conditional registrations of pesticides. See

This article Superficial Safeguards and available here ( also outlines the ways that the EPA’s approval processes is flawed and not protecting our citizens or environment.

Similarly, the state Department of Agriculture is unable to manage pesticide use in Hawaii safely. Look at the recent case on Maui where Monsanto was exposing workers to a banned pesticide. Also, recently on Kauai, Syngenta (now Hartung Brothers Hawaii) workers were exposed to chlorpyrifos in the field despite the chemical corporations and their research facilities claiming they have the highest standards of practice.

The industry talking points are always the same, and they will continue to try to convince decision-makers and legislators that these chemicals are tested and regulated appropriately by bodies with more authority then theirs. These are blatant lies.

The EPA, the state Department of Agriculture and the other regulatory bodies that you are counting on to keep you safe are designed to instead approve half-tested products tested by the manufacturer (not the government) for safety and then use these biocides, often for decades, until undeniable impacts are discovered and proven.

We have seen this over and over and over throughout history — chemicals approved and deemed safe only to be discovered to cause irreversible, undeniable harm.

Please do not rely on these agencies who are failing to regulate. Protect yourself, your family and our environment and please elect legislators that will also.


Fern Anuenue Holland was born and raised on Kauai. She has a bachelor’s degree with majors in wildlife management, marine biology and environmental sciences. She has worked for nearly 15 years in community advocacy relating to pesticide exposure and the impacts of pesticides (including herbicides) on people and the environment.

  1. Charlie Chimknee January 12, 2020 6:46 am Reply

    Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticide, Rodenticide, Fungicides, Moldicide, YES, the use of these poisons is Suicide…DEATH…!

    The article states harm can come to Children and pregnant Mothers, and equally if not more importantly, the HARM to the unborn Baby inside the Mother.

    You see, the developing fetus on it’s way to its own birth, as well as children, youth, and young adults up to the ages of 25 to 27, the age when humans reach physical maturity; are and during those years undergoing not only development of their bodies but much MUCH more importantly the development of their brain, from brain cells to increase of brain cell interconnections to the daily brain challenging experiences of adapting their body’s internal environment to the world around them’s external environment…an environment now being experimentally tested on us humans more and more saturated with the “suicide” petrochemicals of the Agricultural Chemicals, never before seen, smelled, tasted, breathed, ingested, or absorbed through our eyes and skin until now…modern chemicals that until the last 100+ years…have never been experienced nor allowed in our world’s environment…nor in the external environment of all the other life forms on earth who inhabit any form of water from rivers, lakes, and oceans, to those who use the airways, and those who live in, under, on, or grow from the ground as for those who rely on mineral, plant, or animal based nutrition for each other.

    So let us never forget that these petrochemicals, these interruptors to natural functions, also interrupt the natural development of human bodies and brains…and we wonder why Autism and birth defects (really developmental defects to the brain and body) are on the increase everywhere these unsafe chemicals are being used…including right here on the Garden Island whose island gardens are being experimentally saturated with these SUICIDE CHEMICALS, way back from the earlier days of the sugar and pineapple plantations to the much more worse modern experimental SEED PLANTATIONS, where workers and neighbors and students are or have been routinely exposed to these SUICIDE CHEMICALS.

    Suicide Chemicals are so taken for granted already that stores that sell these harmful chemicals allow them to be openly displayed on the store shelves, chemicals whose toxicity is so strong their contents permeate through their plastic containers for all to breathe into their lungs and then directly right into their blood streams and into their body’s brain and every organ, and this is happening right in the store without having to go out to the Kauai westside’s Seed plantations or your own or neighbor’s back yard where these suicide chemicals may be ignorantly or dangerously being used against the manufacturer’s directions of use on the label.

    Remember folks, if you can smell it, it’s already in your blood stream and the blood streams, brains, and organs of your children and unborn babies in the mother.

    Stores should at least isolate these chemicals from the general public and their employees by having them stored in displays that are closed off from the air. Perhaps a display with only one chemical of each kind shown, and when you choose your poison, a “Protected” employee brings your purchase out to your vehicle after proof of purchase, saving the unborn infants, children, young adults, and the rest of us from things that cause Cancer and sickness, now that lawsuits are indicating chemicals Cause cancer, and the chemical labels provide danger warning to your health.

    So how do we get to these poisonous Agricultural chemicals? Well it starts with oil wells and coal mines where oil is pulled from the ground as either a liquid or a solid. It’s called Petroleum at this stage.

    After the Petroleum molecules are rearranged into thousands of different products and other chemicals like plastic and polyester clothing and RoundUp, Glyphosate, and Pyrifos…they are called Petrochemicals.

    The modern use of Petrochemicals is really a modern experiment wherever and on whoever they come into contact with. It is already a foregone conclusion that petrochemicals causes diseases like CANCER, as in Glyphosate and pyrifos and too many others, but it does not end there with the Suicide chemicals.

    Based on testimony of so-called scientists in the petrochemical field who claim their work inventing modern petrochemicals from petroleum is “exciting, fun, and highly profitable”…

    These petrochemicals make up hundreds if not thousands of chemicals put into our packaged, canned, and bottled food and drinks. We are voluntarily taking over 100 chemicals a day in our food, READ THE LABELS.

    And when you become sick and or diseased, you go for the treatment for whatever ails you…the treatment is more chemicals in the prescription or over-the-Counter drugs…you being, just as a matter of fact, being used for more de-facto experiment with suicide chemicals. All the while many who die while they have cancer and other diseases, can die from the severity and toxicity and stress of the treatment given with the chemicals, petrochemicals, radiation, and surgery.

    Disease is a process, caused by something, and creating effects seen and felt as disease; the treatments are are now in the last 100+ years the status quo, and its effectiveness is of concern. Treatment has remained the same only the chemicals have changed, and apparently not necessarily for the better what with the secondary diseases caused by the primary drug for each treatment.

    For instance when you take blood pressure medicine or diabetic medicine, etc., it is for the rest of your life with no effort made to halt or reverse that disease process, nor effort msde to find and remove or avoid the Cause.

    This is the Philosophy of chemical drug treatment, it ensures the perpetuation, or ongoing, of your disease and makes for many return hospital visits and prescriptions purchased all at the expense to your body even if you think it is free from insurance or whatever pays for it.

    Of the $4 Trillion spent on disease care, and increasing each year, some or much of that should be discussing the already known causes of disease and educating the public, as well as searching out the causes not known. It is known that at least some of the chemical drugs, prescriptions, cause some of the diseases, listen to the many TV DRUG ADS,

  2. Will MacClymont Davis January 12, 2020 12:04 pm Reply

    Brilliant analysis. Thanks

  3. truth be known January 14, 2020 10:58 am Reply

    Thank you Fern for your intelligent expose of the chemical industry and their government lackeys. The EPA (every poison allowed) has been rendered a completely impotent agency. Under funded, under staffed and politically shackled, it has become a rubber stamp for the major chemical companies. Sadly, our congressional representatives, with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard, seem unconcerned as to what is happening on our island with chemical exposure.

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