(NaturalNews) The EPA has come under fire for the revelation that months before the massive lead poisoning of Flint’s water supply became public, an EPA employee had notified his superiors of the problem. Instead of warning the people of Flint, however, the EPA privately communicated with Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality to get them to solve the problem.
“There was nothing mandatory under the law to alert people,” said Jennifer Chavez, an attorney for Earthjustice who focuses on lead regulation. “It just would have been the right thing to do.”
“I would say there is just a longstanding pattern of minimizing the risks from lead in drinking water at EPA,” she said.
Protecting Monsanto, not the environment
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) collusion with health and environment-destroying corporations and institutions goes further than the shameful poisoning of tens of thousands of residents of Flint, Michigan, however.
Documents received via a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that the agency also assisted Monsanto in attempting to paint flagship herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) as safe, after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.”
The Roundup herbicide was first introduced in the 1970s, but its use exploded in the mid-1990s with the introduction of Monsanto’s line of “Roundup Ready” genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These crops were genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, allowing farmers to spray massive amounts of the chemical directly onto their fields.
The most common Roundup Ready crops are corn, soy, canola and sugar beets. However, glyphosate is also used on many non-GMO crops, such as sugarcane and wheat, to dry (kill) them immediately prior to harvest. Roundup is also used in enormous quantities by homeowners, golf courses, parks and even schools.
Yet, a growing number of studies have linked this ubiquitous herbicide to cancer and a wide range of other health and environmental problems. It was a review of many of these studies that led to the IARC’s ruling in March 2015.
Three days later, Monsanto made calls and emails to the EPA seeking the agency’s help in reassuring Monsanto’s investors and customers (that is, the public), that glyphosate and Roundup were completely safe. The company even suggested “talking points” that the EPA could use. Three months later, the EPA did indeed issue a memorandum supporting Monsanto’s position.
It was not the first time that the EPA would be criticized for its support of Roundup. In 2013, the agency raised the “safe” limits of glyphosate residue on food to amounts significantly higher than those of any other country.
EPA out of touch with science
Emerging science only highlights how out-of-step the EPA is with its mission to protect human and environmental health.
On February 17 of this year, a group of medical and biology experts from the United States, Canada and Europe published a “consensus statement” in the journal Environmental Health, warning about the growing health threat of glyphosate. The scientists noted that even as new evidence emerges of the chemical’s risks, its use continues to grow. The statement calls for regulators to study glyphosate’s toxicity further; begin better monitoring of residue on food, in the human body and in the environment; and take measures to protect people from exposure.
U.S. government studies have shown widespread glyphosate contamination of air and water nationwide, while tests by private groups have found it in a wide variety of foods and in human urine and breast milk.
“Animal and epidemiology studies published in the last decade … point to the need for a fresh look at glyphosate toxicity,” the statement reads. “Regulatory estimates of tolerable daily intakes for glyphosate in the United States and European Union are based on outdated science.”
The scientists particularly emphasized the need for further tests on glyphosate’s ability to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system. Endocrine disruption is known to lead to cancer, birth and developmental defects, and reproductive problems.