Dow AgroSciences, one of the nation’s largest pesticide makers, along with various food companies, have persuaded several members of Congress to endorse a bill that directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse a proposed phase-out of sulfuryl fluoride, a food fumigant and potent greenhouse gas, reports the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).
If passed, the bill would make the U.S. one of only two western nations to allow sulfuryl fluoride on food. Australia is the other country.
The Pest Free Food Supply Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) and 14 others, seeks to prevent the proposed phase-out of sulfuryl fluoride from taking effect. The phase-out, which EPA proposed in January 2011, was prompted by a joint petition from the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Beyond Pesticides.
According to the FAN, EPA based the proposed phase-out on its finding that many children are currently being overexposed to fluoride, and that there is no safe room for additional fluoride exposures. Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), the EPA cannot approve a pesticide if people are currently receiving too much of the pesticide chemical (in this case, fluoride) from other sources.
Sulfuryl fluoride is a greenhouse gas. Because of this, the Sierra Club, Center for Environmental Health, Defenders of Wildlife, and Center for Biological Diversity oppose Dow’s efforts to expand sulfuryl fluoride production.
Jay Feldman, director of Beyond Pesticides, says, “Before the agricultural processing industry uses its muscles to retain the use of sulfuryl fluoride it should carefully research what other industrialized societies are using to protect food in processing and storage facilities. Some, like Canada, only allow the treatment of empty facilities before the introduction of food products; others use non-toxic methods like heat, refrigeration and carbon dioxide. In the U.S. some of these treatments would require the upgrading of old leaky storage facilities. This would be a far more sensible approach not only to protect our food supply but also to protect our children from unnecessary exposure to yet another toxic substance in their early lives.” Producers can visit FAN’s website at www.fluorideaction.net.