Send the Observer to name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription; send card in my name S20 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $20 name address city state zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 The final assembly of all U.S. nu clear weapons takes place in the Texas Panhandle. Houston has more oil company headquarters than any other city in the world. The whole state reeks of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, political hucksters, and new industry and money. THIS IS THE LOOK OF TEXAS TODAY and the Texas Observer has its independent eye on all of it. We offer the latest in corporate scams and political scandals as well as articles on those who have other, and more humane, visions of what our state can be. Become an Observer subscriber today, order a gift for a friend, or instruct us to enter a library subscription under your patronage. peas, peanuts, corn, and other crops. When the EPA was created in 1970, and given responsibility for regulating pesticides and their labels, dinoseb, along with thousands of other agricultural chemicals, was “grandfathered in” granted registration based on its past approval by federal officials. Though the EPA began registering its 45,000 products in 1972, limited staff and commitment have hampered the review of required tests, reporting procedures, and labeling. Dinoseb products are scheduled for review in 1985. Attention to the herbicide following Ruiz’s death may result in earlier review. Research by the Texas Center for Rural Studies in Austin has revealed that the research on dinoseb’s toxicity that supports its registration does not meet the EPA’s current reporting requirements. Data on cancer, birth defects, neurotoxicity, genetic mutations, reproductive effects, and miscellaneous chronic effects are either non-existent, invalid, or unconfirmed, according to Center director Tani Adams. One birthdefect study was conducted by the Industrial Bio-Test Lab, a company employing three executives who were recently convicted of falsifying test results. Throughout its history, dinitro-3’s use has been accompanied by human injury. Research by Dow Chemical, one of its manufacturers, warns as early as 1948 of its hazards and recommends that its users wear protective clothing, according to Adams. Dinoseb poisonings have been reported in Europe, Arizona, Idaho, and Wisconsin. The California Department of Food and Agriculture, which keeps extensive records on pesticide poisonings, has reported between 20 and 40 incidents annually since 1976. These have included eye and skin irritations and systemic illnesses. Dinitro-3-related injuries are more likely to occur during the summer because of the chemical’s deleterious effect on body temperature. “I would guess that dinitro-3 is just as likely to be used in Texas farm fields as in California,” says Keith Maddy, staff toxicologist with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “Certainly the risks and need for extreme precaution are similar,” he says. In California, all dinitro-3 compounds have been “state-restricted” since 1977 due to their high toxicity and the number of recorded injuries, according to Maddy. “State-restricted” is a regulatory category that allows states to preempt federal guidelines and enforce tougher restrictions within their borders. In contrast to dinitro-3’s classification as a “general use” pesticide which requires no licensing for its use in Texas, those desiring to administer this herbicide on crops in California must secure a permit by filing a notice of intended use with the agriculture commissioner and by meeting strict training requirements. A California farm or ranch owner is required by state law to provide an employee using dinitro-3 with training and state-supplied safety information sheets in a language that the employee understands. “In a year when pesticide use is reportedly down dramatically . . . our complaints are on the rise.” Ron White, TDA Due to the Texas Department of apparent uninterest in pesticide abuse, current Agriculture Commissioner Hightower has had some difficulty redirecting the department’s energies in that direction. His actions were hampered by the legislature’s willingness to provide increased funding for marketing but not for regulatory duties. Though both California and Texas spot-check the labels approved by the EPA, California employs a technically-trained staff of close to 40 for that effort while Texas is in the process of hiring its first toxicologist. As with all general use pesticides in Texas, there are no records of dinitro-3’s manufacture, distribution, sale, or use. The agriculture department cannot, therefore, issue a statewide “stop sale” order on dinitro-3 because it must be delivered to all affected companies, according to staff attorney Jim Butler. Instead, the department has secured the voluntary withdrawal of the product from the Texas market from Platte Company’s Texas distributors: Central Valley Chemical, Inc., of Bryan; Growers Ag. Service, Dumas; Mid Valley Chemical, Inc., Weslaco; and Tri-State Chemical, Inc., Hereford, O’Brien, and Brownfield. Scamardo’s only possible violation of Texas pesticide laws was technical: his employees were spraying dinitro-3 on cotton, an unapproved use in this state. TDA Assistant Commissioner Ron White guesses that this type of minor violation is relatively common due to its minimal legal consequences; conviction for such an act would result in a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $200. At TDA’s request, the Brazos County Attorney’s Office has filed a civil suit against Scamardo that could result in fines of 10 JANUARY 27, 1984
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