A Trump administration appointee at EPA has taken an influential role in federal assessment of the risk posed by hazardous chemicals, "making it more aligned with the industry's wishes," reports the New York Times. The new approach includes the EPA decision in March to allow continued agriculture use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide criticized as a risk to children and farmworkers.
Farm groups applauded when Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue changed USDA's organizational tree to create the post of undersecretary for trade. Now, Perdue is hearing complaints about his decision to give the undersecretary control over the Codex Alimentarius office — Latin for "Food Code" — that speaks for the United States in setting international food safety rules, says Politico.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stars in a 78-second National Cattleman's Beef Association video that urges farmers and ranchers to file comments about repeal of the so-called Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, "and ...about how to get it right as we go forward." Pruitt's role in the video, which directs viewers to the NCBA website to file comments, "has drawn the attention of experts in government ethics," says E&E News.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer started a global debate by rating glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, as "probably carcinogenic to humans" while the EPA says its studies indicate it is "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at doses relevant to human health." Harvest Public Media says the difference in view is partially explained by the way the agencies chose to evaluate the issue.
A prominent fisheries scientist at the University of Washington, Ray Hillborn, is accused by Greenpeace of failing to disclose funding from the fishing industry in several scientific papers dating back to 2006, says the NPR blog The Salt. The environmental group calls Hillborn a "denier of over-fishing."
A private foundation has paid $60,000 since 2008 to underwrite international prayer trips by Rep. Robert Aderholt, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USDA, reports Roll Call. Aderholt told the newspaper there was "absolutely nothing" improper in the travel.