by Jonathan Benson
August 02, 2011
The DuPont chemical company recently received approval from the US
Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for its new herbicide
which has been alleged as an "environmentally friendly" alternative
to other herbicides.
However, a recent
New York Times (NYT) report implicates the
herbicide in causing the widespread deaths of thousands of trees
across the country, including Norway spruces, eastern white pines,
willows, poplars, and conifers.
DuPont originally designed Imprelis with the stated intent to kill
lawn weeds like dandelion and clover - both of these "weeds" happen
to be highly nutritious foods, by the way - because, frankly, most people want their lawns to be perfectly
homogenous in every way. But the chemical, despite being marketed as
safe for the environment, is killing off trees as well, which has
caused quite an uproar.
The NYT report indicates that DuPont, various local nurseries and
garden supply stores that carry and sell Imprelis, and even
authorities, are receiving hordes of complaints from the public that
the herbicide is their killing trees en masse.
And yet DuPont remains in denial that Imprelis is to blame, and has
already come out claiming that customers might be at fault for
improperly mixing or applying the chemical.
the EPA appears to
be taking a similar approach, despite giving very unconvincing
lip-service that it is taking the situation "very seriously."
"We've made 1,000 applications and had 350 complaints of dead trees,
and it's climbing," lamented Matt Coats, services manager for
Underwood Nursery in Adrian, Mich., to the NYT.
"I've done nothing
for the last three weeks but deal with angry customers. We're seeing
some tree doing OK, with just the tips getting brown, and others are
completely dead and it looks like someone took a flamethrower to
Coats went on to say that while his nursery has liability insurance
to replace the dead trees, each incident holds a $500 deductible. In
other words, his company has already spent $150,000 out of pocket to
pay for damages caused by Imprelis, and these costs are escalating.
Many landscapers, however, have it far worse, as their insurance
policies largely do not cover dead trees, many of which were mature
deserves much of the blame for approving Imprelis in the first place
The fact that DuPont markets Imprelis as having "low toxicity to
mammals and low environmental impact" - all while the chemical
cocktail is actually causing a real-life, utterly-devastating
environmental impact as we speak - is despicable.
And while it is
easy to put all the blame on DuPont for selling a product that is
mislabeled, at best, it is important not to forget that the EPA is
actually responsible as well because the agency approved the
herbicide in the first place.
According to the NYT, the EPA spent 23 months investigating Imprelis
prior to granting it approval. It is unclear what type of
investigating the agency actually performed during this time,
though, as one would think that a basic platform of product testing
would include seeing how trees, plants, and other non-target shrubs
respond to the herbicide - which it appears the agency did not do.
The EPA either never performed any safety testing on Imprelis at
all, in which case it has proven itself to be an utterly useless
"protector" of the environment, or it performed tests and did not
consider the findings to be of much concern.
In either case, the EPA
has demonstrated that it is unable to properly perform its job
duties, and deserves to be stripped of all regulatory authority.
Since pyralids, the class of herbicides to which Imprelis belongs,
have been known to poison non-target plants as far back as 2008, the
indictment of the EPA goes even deeper. Pyralids biodegrade
so slowly that they can remain in soil for years and leech directly
into groundwater supplies.
And if the soil is ever composted, the
herbicide can spread even further,
causing extensive damage.
Such easily-accessed information must have come up during the EPA's
23-month "investigation" of Imprelis, which suggests that
was willfully complicit in approving a dangerous product that is
mislabeled as being safe.
And if this is the case, then the EPA must
be immediately investigated and held liable for potential criminal
chemical herbicide is truly safe, despite claims made by chemical
What all of this really comes down to is the fact that no synthetic
chemical formula is safe.
No matter how creatively the chemical
companies try to label their products as "safe" or "low impact,"
such claims are patently false when the chemicals in question have
been synthetically engineered to kill plants.
The only effective and safe ways to deal with weeds is either to
pull them out by hand, or learn to accept them and the many benefits
they can actually provide, which include improving soil health and
reducing the need for excess watering.
There are also a variety of companies that produce truly-safe and
natural lawn care products that will help with lawn management. To
learn more, visit: