Breath of Clarity

Discussion Comment 2: FIFRA Export Rules

Original Post by Joey Durr:

I don’t think that allowing pesticides banned in the U.S. to be exported overseas is a good decision. This directly coincides with the idea of allowing manufacturing of these pesticides in the U.S. in the first place. It is crazy to think that we would allow manufacturing of something in the U.S. that isn’t legal here in the first place. For example, do you think manufacturing drugs in the U.S. that are banned here would mean that no one would use such drugs? Or that it would safely allow people not to use such drugs? My point is that manufacturing products that we deem unsafe for public American use can not help the cause of eradicating these products from use in our country. We also have to consider that we consume a lot of the products that are grown in other countries. So if we sell illegal pesticides to these countries, we can still consume them by purchasing the products they produce with the help of such illegal pesticides. As an example, our lecture references Chile and its use of DDT on grapes. DDT was a chemical widely talked about in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the negative effects it had on birds. We currently purchase a large amount of grapes from Chile.

After researching online, it is clear that this regime is not working. Many people are still able to obtain illegal pesticides. For example, in 2019 Monsanto pleaded guilty to illegal use of pesticides in Hawaii (Mccavoy). Monsanto is one of the largest agricultural biotech companies in the US. If they are caught using illegal pesticides, think how many small market companies and farms can and will use illegal pesticides without anyone noticing.

The global marketplace only increases the likelihood of U.S. consumers to buy illegal pesticides. The EPA article given above cites Amazon’s actions of selling illegal pesticides to U.S. consumers. But even more recently, people have been buying illegal pesticides off ebay and other marketplaces, claiming these pesticides are an effective use of preventing the coronavirus (US Immigration). Although it wasn’t sold as a use for crops, this proves how easy it is to buy these illegal pesticides online.

There are many cases around the world of the U.S. selling these illegal pesticides elsewhere. In fact, according to a study by the Center for Biological Diversity showed that the U.S. uses 85 pesticides outlawed in other countries (Donley). A large part of this may be due to the original FIFRA law. In lecture, we learned under the first FIFRA law that the USDA could not refuse to register a pesticide. Therefore, many pesticides that were unsafe were registered under the law. The 1964 amendments allowed the USDA to refuse to register new pesticides or cancel existing ones. But it has taken the EPA quite some time to rollback a lot of the pesticides that were able to slide by under the first law. So we are already behind many countries in their efforts to ban illegal pesticides in the first place. Clearly this has an effect on other countries because we openly sell a lot of what they’re trying to prevent.

I think the simple solution is to ban the production of products that we don’t even deem safe for our own people. It’s largely hypocritical to manufacture a pesticide we don’t even think is safe to use. And although I condemn the U.S. for doing this, it is also on other countries to control what comes into their own nation. In the digital world we live in, millions of illegal products are shipped daily to all parts of the globe. So I’m not sure there is a clear and concise way to stop this. Frankly, if there is a market for a product online it will get produced and sold by someone. But the U.S. should not be using this as an opportunity for profits. There is an extremely high chance that the sale of illegal pesticides will come back to us in some way, whether it be through our own residents use or the consumption of crops that were produced through illegal pesticides.


EPA 2018. “EPA settles with amazon for distributions of illegal pesticides” accessed May 13, 2020 (Links to an external site.)

Mccavoy, Audry 2019 “Monsanto Pleads Guilty to Illegal Pesticide use in Hawaii” accessed May 13, 2020 (Links to an external site.)

Donley, Nathan 2019 “United States uses 85 pesticides outlawed in other countries” accessed May 13, 2020 (Links to an external site.)

US immigration and customs enforcement 2020 “ICE HSI arrests Georgia resident selling illegal pesticide claiming it protects against coronavirus” accessed May 13, 2020


It’s very interesting the U.S. uses 85 pesticides outlawed in other countries and still continues to internationally sell domestically unregistered pesticides. I wonder why the other countries decided not to approve the 85 types of pesticides for its own population. Not only is the U.S. engaging in online distribution of harmful substances to uninformed countries, but the companies are also permitting the sale to nations with stricter regulations. Are the countries that have outlawed the 85 pesticides necessarily the same ones U.S. companies are selling to online? Have any of the countries that outlawed at least one of the 85 refused to buy anything from the online marketplace after seeing the required document outlining a product contains a chemical outlawed in America?

I agree with the statement saying the original FIFRA law plays a significant factor in the U.S. still having 85 permitted pesticides that are outlawed in other countries. It makes sense unsafe pesticides were registered under the law. However, this instance shows the consequence America faces in relying on the ability to make amendments instead of truly being thorough to guarantee a mistake is not made in the initial law. Could the U.S. use other already completed international studies to speed up the cancellation process?

While I agree it’s important for other countries to monitor the content entering their own nations, it’s still U.S. responsibility particularly because its legitimized past actions are based on a self-perception of being a savior country. If the U.S. is doing a lot of international development work (such as Peace Corps and miscellaneous NGO projects) then why doesn’t it prohibit the international sale of unsafe goods? I see it as a result of a domestic political climate composed of polarized parties as the U.S. is not unified under the same values. The U.S. needs to get a clear understanding of whether its own profits are more important than the health of people outside its borders. If the nation decides to take a competitive approach, then it shouldn’t be using money for international aid. If the nation decides to take a helpful approach, then it shouldn’t be sending proven toxic chemicals abroad just to make money.