Common Rice Herbicide Found to Be Highly Toxic
(From May 24, 2002)
EPA recently deemed the herbicide molinate to be highly toxic, despite pressure from industry to ignore animal studies showing its health threats, according to Pesticide Action Network of North America. EPA's preliminary risk assessment for molinate shows it to be a neurotoxicant, reproductive toxicant and a suspected human carcinogen.
The California Rice Commission (CRC) protested the labeling of molinate as a reproductive toxicant. CRC is affected by this claim, as molinate is mainly used in rice production. Its label from EPA as a reproductive toxicant means it will fall under the same status in California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65). The possible result is a limitation of molinate discharged into groundwater. CRC pursued their cause in spite of numerous animal studies showing molinate's reproductive toxicity. Studies with rats show "abnormal sperm, decreased sperm numbers, decreased litter size, decreased percent of live births, decreased pup viability, increased incidence of microscopic lesions in the ovary, testes and adrenal glands, delayed vaginal opening, reproductive organ weight effects and decreased brain weight."
Molinate is commonly applied to crops in a flooded field. Water from the field is then released into nearby bodies of water. In many cases, it will eventually travel to local drinking water supplies, subjecting residents to a potentially hazardous exposure. Other people are at risk from the use of molinate. Workers applying the pesticide, and people who live near by rice fields can be exposed dermally or through inhalation.