As the days tick down to next month’s presidential election, debate rages over the U.S. government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with critics of President Donald Trump calling for his ouster due to his failure to protect the American public.
And yet as mass media runs daily tallies of COVID-related cases and deaths, a more sinister threat to public health looms as the Trump administration rolls back regulations that govern the quality of our air, land, and water. And though these actions are garnering little public outcry now, they pose grave danger to our children and their children for decades to come. It’s a simple truth — a poisoned environment means poisoned people.
A year ago Thailand was set to ban the widely used weed killing chemical glyphosate, a move applauded by public health advocates because of evidence the chemical causes cancer, along with other harms to people and the environment.
But under heavy pressure from U.S. officials, Thailand’s government reversed the planned ban on glyphosate last November and delayed imposing bans on two other agricultural pesticides despite the fact that the country’s National Hazardous Substances Committee said a ban was necessary to protect consumers.
A ban, particularly on glyphosate, would “severely impact” Thai imports of soybeans, wheat and other agricultural commodities, U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Ted McKinney warned Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha in pushing for the reversal. Imports could be impacted because those commodities, and many others, typically are laced with residues of glyphosate.
Now, newly revealed emails between government officials and Monsanto parent Bayer AG show that McKinney’s actions, and those taken by other U.S. government officials to convince Thailand not to ban glyphosate, were largely scripted and pushed by Bayer.