Monday, May 19, 2008

EPA Fails to Protect Consumers Again
by Ripping Labels Off Pesticides

--trends + business + politics--

Let's imagine a world without warnings, or guides and a universe filled with safe products and do good business' whose sole ambition is not profitability but the betterment of mankind. O.K now that we finished our little journey into la al land we can now ask ourselves and our dear friends at the EPA if they were lost in la la land when deciding to distribute pesticide labels electronically, in lieu of traditional labeling. Yes - you read it right. The EPA is planning on pulling all labels off pesticides, including instructions for proper use. The move clearly is raising more than a few eye brows. Are pesticide companies trying to save all the trees used for labels? What possible "do good spin" can they put on this absurd decision?

"Benefits from using this system will include faster access to new pesticide uses, quicker implementation of protective measures for public health and the environment, improved compliance with label directions, and lower costs for industry and EPA,” the agency said May 12 in a statement on its pesticides website. Well, we believe the last part. The utterly absurd system will rely on users to contact either the pesticide labeling website or a toll-free telephone number to obtain the detailed-use instructions that previously were attached to pesticide containers, EPA said. So let me just get this straight - their method of protecting public health is by removing labels off toxic chemicals and asking consumers to call toll free numbers or access web site? Huh? Are they installing phones and access to the web at every retail location? What am I missing here?

According to Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, “EPA knows historically from its label improvement program that it has a difficult time getting people to read labels. Instead of further removing labels from the consumer’s sight, EPA should be enhancing label information and design to ensure better disclosure of product hazards so that consumers can make better decisions regarding pesticide product purchase and use.”

This past Fall the EPA said in its presentation on electronic labeling that it “may replace the Directions for Use on the physical container,” but that the “container label would still have all FIFRA mandated elements, e.g. product name, registration number, net contents, and ingredients (I am guessing without a dictionary enclosed). ” The enforcement of the new system as described last fall involved a number of steps, including that “users would need to have a copy of the labeling from the website at the time of application” and “labeling would be good for a specified duration of time (e.g. six months) from the date of ‘printing.’” Cumbersome, inconvenient, unrealistic and clearly not serving the best interests or safety of the consumer - the EPA misses the mark yet again.

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