US imposes stricter requirements on the use of chemicals in agriculture

The US Environment Agency EPA will impose stricter conditions on the authorization of chemical agents in agriculture. From now on, the possible effects of pesticides on the habitat of endangered plants and animals are also taken into account. Previous temporary admissions will also have to comply with new rules.

The EPA has been forced to the stricter criteria by dozens of court cases against farmers and the chemical industry. In the tightened authorization process, the EPA can now issue bans on use in certain geieden, or in certain quantities.

The EPA previously concluded in an interim report that the coatings 'probably adversely affect the habitats of thousands of plant and animal species'. An imminent ban could have major consequences for American agriculture.

These are the herbicides imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam that are commonly used in the cultivation of soybeans, sugar beet, maize, wheat and cottonseed. Neonicotinoids are used on hundreds of millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Not just these three, but all pesticides in the United States must undergo these new stricter screenings. In the European Union, the use of these three neonicotinoids has been subject to stricter regulations since 2018.

The EPA announcement coincides with the release of a university study showing that hundreds of thousands of California residents are drinking nitrate-contaminated water from their private drinking water wells.

According to researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA, the drinking water for more than 370,000 Californians is contaminated with arsenic, nitrate and other chemicals. In many cases, the state's agricultural industry is to blame, they say.

The report is the first comprehensive analysis of water quality in California. Their work was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health .According to the researchers, about 10 percent of California's public drinking water systems do not meet minimum health standards.

The study analyzed three common contaminants — arsenic, nitrate and hexavalent chromium. Two of the three are associated with the California agricultural sector. Due to the ongoing drought in California, agriculture has pumped up a lot of groundwater, which increases the arsenic content. Nitrate pollution is mainly linked to the extensive agribusiness in California, for example through fertilizer run-off and industrial livestock farming.