Let's be clear, herbicides and pesticides are poisons. Herbicides are intended to control unwanted plants; pesticides are used to control unwanted pests. This is accomplished by killing the already present weeds, insects, or otherwise, or by making the environment inhospitable to them. It's a destructive process that involves harsh, toxic, polluting chemicals.
Pesticides and herbicides have been used for decades and criticized almost as long. There is an ongoing cycle where these products are developed, marketed, used, and then found to have disastrous side effects. DDT, Atrazine, and Aldrin were all, at one time, hailed as great discoveries, only later to be recategorized as some of the most dangerous chemical engineering follies of all time.
Now, in continuation of this disastrous cycle, DuPont is facing reparation costs because it's Imprelis herbicide was found to be killing trees. Imprelis, initially touted for it's low toxicity to mammals, is now responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of trees, and the creation of a $225 million claim fund.
Over 30,000 claims have been filed by homeowners, golf courses, and landscape contractors who have dead and affected trees from use of this product. The number of trees is estimated to be well into the hundreds of thousands and includes many old growth trees. The loss is a tragic waste, yet some are only evaluating the issue simply by how quick or courteously DuPont is responding to the claims.
“We’re making really good progress,” said Rik Miller, DuPont’s president for crop protection. He said officials expect to have offers out to at least half of the claimants by the end of July.
That's a responsibility that has to be met, but what about the larger picture? What environmental impacts of Imprelis have yet to be discovered? How long is this toxic poison going to stay in the environment? This has affected hundreds of thousands of trees, we can only infer that the scope of this problem is massive. When will DuPont stop creating chemicals that pollute and ruin the environment we all share?
- Jim Robbins. DuPont facing 30,000 claims for tree deaths. The New York Times. 2012 June 22.
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