Many Americans are probably only remotely aware they might have been
made vulnerable to a decades-long saturation of their environment by a
showering of toxic chemicals on their food crops, with little apparent
protection by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Former EPA
staffer E.G. Vallianatos, with environmental writer McKay Jenkins,
reveals the politics that have delivered us to this place.
Having spent most of his 25-year career (1979-2004) in the EPA’s
Office of Pesticides Programs, Vallianatos saw firsthand not only the
science that found toxicity in the pesticides Big Agriculture has been
applying to crops, but how those discoveries played out within a
highly politicized EPA over five presidential administrations.
Vallianatos (the book is written in his first-person voice) cites the
case of Cate Jenkins, an EPA scientist who in the early 1990s blew the
whistle on what she considered to be Monsanto’s fraudulent claim that
exposure to dioxin — “the most toxic chemical ever known to man,”
according to the EPA, and a substance Monsanto used in making a wood
preservative — did not cause cancer in workers.
The EPA, according to Vallianatos, had relied on Monsanto’s own
dioxin studies to determine dioxin’s danger to the community, and
Jenkins claimed Monsanto had falsified its results by, among other
things, excluding workers with cancer from its studies.
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