The U.S. Still Uses Dozens of Hazardous Pesticides Banned in Other Countries

Phorate, for example—the “extremely hazardous” insecticide that is most used in the U.S.—is banned in 38 countries, including China, Brazil and India.

Pramod Acharya Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

(Photo by USDA)

Edi­tor’s Note: This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on the Mid­west Cen­ter for Inves­tiga­tive Report­ing.

A total of about 400 dif­fer­ent agri­cul­tur­al pes­ti­cides were used in the Unit­ed States in 2017, the lat­est year data is avail­able. More and more pes­ti­cides have been used because they con­tribute to high­er yields and improved prod­uct qual­i­ty by con­trol­ling weeds, insects, nema­todes, and plant pathogens,” accord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

How­ev­er, the USDA not­ed, pes­ti­cides pose con­se­quences for people’s health and the environment.

About 150 agri­cul­tur­al pes­ti­cides that the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion con­sid­ers haz­ardous” at some lev­el to human health were used in the Unit­ed States in 2017, accord­ing to a review of U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey data.

The geo­log­i­cal sur­vey esti­mat­ed that at least one bil­lion pounds of agri­cul­tur­al pes­ti­cides were used in 2017. Of that, about 60 per­cent – or more than 645 mil­lion pounds – of the pes­ti­cides were haz­ardous to human health, accord­ing to the WHO’s data.

Many haz­ardous” pes­ti­cides that have been used in the U.S. for decades are banned in many oth­er countries.

Twen­ty-five pes­ti­cides that are banned in more than 30 coun­tries were still used in the Unit­ed States in 2017, accord­ing to an analy­sis of data from the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey and the Pes­ti­cide Action Net­work Inter­na­tion­al, which keeps track of banned pes­ti­cides around the world. 

The action net­work’s data show that about 70 of the 150 haz­ardous pes­ti­cides used in the U.S. are banned in at least one country. 

For instance, phor­ate, the most used extreme­ly haz­ardous” insec­ti­cide in the U.S. in 2017, is banned in 38 coun­tries, includ­ing Chi­na, Brazil and India. None of the extreme­ly haz­ardous” pes­ti­cides can be used in the 27 nations of the Euro­pean Union.

The Mid­west Cen­ter for Inves­tiga­tive Report­ing is a non­prof­it, online news­room offer­ing inves­tiga­tive and enter­prise cov­er­age of agribusi­ness, Big Ag and relat­ed issues through data analy­sis, visu­al­iza­tions, in-depth reports and inter­ac­tive web tools. Vis­it us online https://​inves​ti​gatemid​west​.org

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