Environmental Working Group exaggerates toxic hazards in latest anti-chem/anti-GMO campaign

| | August 27, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released a blog post titled “Thousands Of Schools Would be Close To Toxic Spray Zones.” The report basically states that if Enlist Duo herbicide is approved by the EPA, many school-aged children will be put at great risk.

Enlist Duo is a new formulation of two well-characterized herbicides (2,4-D and glyphosate) currently under consideration by the EPA. If approved, Dow plans to sell the combination herbicide in conjunction with Enlist corn and soybean, biotech crops which are under consideration by the USDA.

The EWG report has been picked up by several media outlets over the last month or so. Notably, nearly all of the media coverage uses the word “dousing” to describe applying the herbicide, so it is worth taking them with a grain of salt. The authors of the EWG analysis make no attempt to estimate how much of the herbicide we would actually expect children at these schools to be exposed to…. 

So I decided to look at some data to see if I could come up with an estimate of potential exposure for these schools near crop fields. …to put it all together, even if the 20 kg child ran around in the sprayed field continuously for 24 straight hours, they would only be exposed to a maximum of 0.0097 mg per day, 14 times less than what would be considered safe using EWG’s proposed standard.

So even if we assume very high estimates of air concentration, assume very high breathing rates of children, assume a very small child, assume unrealistically high exposure time, and assume an unrealistically close proximity between the child and the treated area, there is nothing to indicate the children would be exposed to unsafe concentrations of the herbicide. If we use more realistic values for each step (proximity, concentrations, breathing rates), the chronic exposure would be almost negligible. If Paracelsus were alive today, I have to think he would not be too concerned.

Read full original article: Is your child in a toxic spray zone?

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