The Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy recently released documents revealing decades of collusion between the chemical industry and government regulators, most notably the EPA. The documents, available at PoisonPapers.org , detail a history of secrecy and cover-ups on the part of government agencies charged with regulating the use of harmful chemicals in industry and agriculture.
While the EPA was declaring your family’s cattle tank a wetland, and fining property owners for digging a pond on their own property, it was simultaneously colluding with industry to conceal the toxicity of widely used chemical agents, and to keep such information from the public.
The Poison Papers are a compilation of over 20,000 documents obtained from federal agencies and chemical manufacturers via open records requests and public interest litigation. They include scientific studies and summaries of studies, internal memos and reports, meeting minutes, strategic discussions, and sworn testimonies.
The majority of these documents have been scanned and digitized for the first time and represent nearly three tons of material. The regulatory agency sources of these documents include: the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, the FDA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. Chemical manufacturers referenced in the documents include: Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, and Union Carbide, as well as many smaller manufacturers and the commercial testing companies who worked for them.
The government regulatory agencies involved include the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, the FDA, the Veterans Administration, and the Department of Defense. The chemical manufacturers include Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, and Union Carbide.
In her words:
“[T]he stark truth revealed by these 50 years of documents is that the entire pesticide industry could not exist without lies, coverups, rampant fraud, and government enablers.”
Nor without unelected government bureaucrats working in secret and answerable to no one. The EPA has a history of “actions that are illegal, unethical and incompetent,” in the words of Forbes contributor Henry I. Miller. The agency has a
longstanding practice of buying influence by doling out hundreds of millions of dollars each year to certain favored nonprofit organizations—money that, according to the inspector general and Government Accountability Office, is dispersed with no public notice, competition or accountability. The GAO investigators documented systematic malfeasance by regulators, including: (1) making grants to grantees who were unable to fulfill the terms of the grants; (2) favoring an exclusive clique of grantees without opening the grants to competition; (3) funding “environmental” grants for activities that lack any apparent environmental benefit; and (4) failing to ensure that grantees performed the objectives identified in the grants.
The Poison Papers revelations should put the agency out of favor across the political spectrum.
What is novel in the Poison Papers is the abundant evidence that EPA and other regulators were often knowing participants or even primary instigators of these cover-ups. These regulators failed to inform the public of the hazards of dioxins and other chemicals; of evidence of fraudulent independent testing; and of widespread human exposure. The papers thus reveal, in the often-incriminating words of the participants themselves, an elaborate universe of deception and deceit surrounding many pesticides and synthetic chemicals. The chemicals most often discussed in the documents include dioxins, herbicides and pesticides (such as 2,4-D, Dicamba, Permethrin, Atrazine, and Agent Orange) and PCBs. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic and persistent ever manufactured. Except for PCBs, almost every chemical discussed in the Poison Papers is still manufactured and sold today, either as products or as product contaminants.