Representatives Ask for Specifics After NRC Releases Study

The National Research Council released its risk assessments reports on pesticides Wednesday - which raises concerns about the federal government's methods to conduct scientific assessments of ecological risks from pesticides - as required by the Endangered Species Act. The House Ag Committee held a joint oversight hearing in May 2011 and urged the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to modify their request and ensure the NRC conducts a complete, comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of the Biological Opinions relating to pesticide use across the nation. In particular - the request was for the study to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of reasonable and prudent measures suggested by the NMFS - which would affect more than 112-million acres and rural economies in certain states if implemented.

House Ag Chair Frank Lucas says while they appreciate the NRC's hard work - the charge to the Council was so restrictive as to render their final report meaningless. Lucas says it is essential that federal agencies charged with administering the ESA be open to legitimate scientific scrutiny of their policies and practices if endangered species and their habitats are to be protected. With the recent federal court ruling that NOAA's salmon BiOps for crop protection products are based on flawed science, outdated data and failed to consider economic impacts - Representative Doc Hastings says it is imperative the National Academy of Sciences comprehensively review the flaws and force NOAA to re-write these opinions quickly.

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