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Putting ‘health of all species’ in danger: Trump EPA proposal guts restrictions on toxic herbicide linked to birth defects

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“The pro-industry zealots now running the EPA’s pesticide office are making a mockery of science and eliminating key safety measures, all for company profits.”

Environmental and public health advocacy groups expressed alarm Friday after the Trump administration moved to increase the allowable level in U.S. waterways of a common herbicide linked to hermaphroditic amphibians and birth defects, cancer, and other harmful health effects in humans.

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At issue in the proposal posted yesterday by the EPA is the threshold level of atrazine, the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S. Manufactured by Syngenta, atrazine is primarily used in agriculture as a weedkiller on crops. It is not authorized for use in the European Union, as the body said there wasn’t enough data to prove it wouldn’t have a harmful effect on groundwater.

“Human exposure to atrazine is linked to a number of serious health effects,” according to a factsheet from Pesticide Action Network. “A potent endocrine disrupter, atrazine interferes with hormonal activity of animals and humans at extremely low doses.”

The proposed change, said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, “will likely lead to an increase in atrazine in drinking water, particularly in the Midwest.”

As Donley’s group and Environmental Working Group (EWG) explain in a press statement, the proposal regards what the EPA calls the Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CELOC).

“Atrazine levels above this threshold require mitigations to bring the water body back into compliance. Below, this level, no action is required,” as Donley said in tweet.

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Trump’s EPA is proposing bumping up the level to a 60-day average concentration of 15 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine, 50% higher than the current level of 10 ppb. In 2016 the agency proposed a level of just 3.4 ppb, but that Obama-era assessment, according to Trump’s EPA, was “fundamentally flawed” and failed to take into consideration “the relevance of the individual studies.”

Driving the push towards higher acceptable levels of atrazine, according to EWG and the Center, is the administration’s goal of appeasing Big Ag and the pesticide industry.

“To please Syngenta, the Trump EPA has rejected decades of independent research showing atrazine can’t be safely used at any level,” said Donley. “The pro-industry zealots now running the EPA’s pesticide office are making a mockery of science and eliminating key safety measures, all for company profits.”

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Olga Naidenko, EWG’s vice president for science investigations, warned of the possible impacts to children.

“Atrazine sprayed on the fields ends up in our drinking water and affects the development of the fetus,” said Naidenko. Thus, she said, the proposal should provoke “outrage” as it “will lead to more children being exposed to this toxic chemical.”

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“With Trump’s EPA reversing even the most commonsense protections,” added Donley, “our health, and the health of all species, is in serious danger.”

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Donald Trumps needs a coronavirus scapegoat — and right now it’s China

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"If we are at war, who is the enemy?" asks Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor for The Washington Post in a smart piece that examines the question of who constitutes a target for a self-declared "wartime president."

While it is obvious that the enemy, in this case, is a tiny, sticky, invisible microbe that stubbornly gloms onto surfaces or leaps through the air to weaponize subway cars or shared gym equipment or a touch to the face.

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Trump says Putin to ‘probably ask’ for sanctions lifting

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President Donald Trump said Monday he expects his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to request the lifting of US sanctions during an upcoming phone call.

"Yeah, he'll probably ask for that," Trump told Fox News.

Trump did not say what his response would be, noting that he had put sanctions on Russia but adding: "They don't like that. Frankly we should be able to get along."

The two were due to talk "shortly," he said.

Last Thursday, Putin told G20 leaders during a conference call that he wanted a moratorium on sanctions as a "matter of life and death" during the global coronavirus outbreak.

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Arguing with the coronavirus deniers in your life can backfire — here’s how to make them see the light

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For those of us diligently practicing social distancing, it can be infuriatingly frustrating to encounter friends and loved ones who refuse to. There’s a strong temptation to lash out at them as selfish fools whose irresponsibility endangers us all. But doing so will backfire because, when people feel attacked, they get defensive and entrench in their position. Like it or not (not!), this is human nature.

Your civic duty, in addition to social distancing, is to talk to Covid-deniers in a way that has some chance of getting through to them. Here are some do’s and don’ts from the world of cross-partisan dialogue best practices that apply to the Covid-19 pandemic:

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