EPA orders Amazon to stop the sale of illegal pesticides

(Natural News)
The Seattle office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a “stop sale” order to Amazon to have illegal pesticides removed from its online shopping platform, the agency announced on Tuesday.

Issued on Jan. 7, the order targets 70 potentially dangerous or ineffective unregistered pesticides and pesticide devices with illegal and misleading claims that they offer protection against viruses.

“Unregistered pesticides in the e-commerce marketplace pose a significant and immediate health risk to consumers, children, pets and others exposed to the products,” said Ed Kowalski, director of the Enforcement Compliance Assurance Division in the EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle.

This marks the third time in three years that Amazon ran afoul of the EPA, after being issued a similar order last year and getting sued in 2018 for allowing illegal pesticides to be sold on its platform for years.

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The order targets items that promise to kill viruses, repel mosquitoes or clean homes and pools, according to the Seattle Times. These items add to the 30 products listed in another “stop sale” order issued in June last year.

“We have no idea what those products are made of,” Chad Schulze, the EPA’s pesticide enforcement lead in Seattle, told the Times. “And when you have people purchasing a product that says it will kill or control viruses in their personal space but it does not, that’s a huge risk as well.”

The EPA defines “pesticides” as any substance intended to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate pests like insects, viruses and bacteria. Pesticides to be sold in the United States have to be registered with the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The registration process is intended to ensure that all pesticides for sale are safe and deliver on their promise.

Since the January order was issued, the illegal listings had disappeared from Amazon’s website, a spokesperson for the Seattle-based company told the Times. But the tech giant’s online sale of unregistered pesticides has been a long-standing problem.

In 2018, the EPA found that Amazon violated FIFRA nearly 4,000 times between 2013 and 2016. The tech giant settled the agency’s charges for $1.2 million and committed to monitoring the sale of illegal pesticides on its platform. As part of that settlement, the company created an online training course on federal pesticide regulations to educate pesticide vendors on its platform.

While the problem got minimized, it has not gone away completely. For instance, one pesticide named in the 2020 order had the label “Amazon’s Choice,” signaling the company’s endorsement.

“Is [Amazon] perfect? Is it stopping everything we need them to stop? No,” said Schulze. (Related: Amazon CAUGHT selling EXPIRED nutritional products.)

Other EPA officials are also concerned about Amazon’s continued noncompliance with federal pesticide safety laws.

“It’s pretty unprecedented from an enforcement perspective to have to issue administrative orders and penalty orders numerous times,” Brett Dugan, the EPA’s assistant regional counsel, told the Times.

Dugan explained that companies that received a formal enforcement response from a federal agency usually amend their illegal practices. But that is not the case with Amazon, he said.

Over 4,000 items on Amazon are banned, unsafe or misbranded

Amazon has also been found to be allowing the continued sale of illegal or unsafe products on its platform. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that more than 4,000 items for sale on Amazon’s website are declared unsafe by federal agencies, deceptively labeled or banned by federal regulators.

Most of the items were from China and at least 2,000 listings were for toys and medications without warnings about their health risks to children. At least 157 items, including sleeping mats that the Food and Drug Administration warned can suffocate infants, were still listed on the website even after Amazon said they had been banned. (Related: INVESTIGATION: Amazon.com a marketplace of FRAUD.)

Four of 10 children’s products failed safety tests commissioned by the Journal, including one with lead levels that exceeded federal limits.

Fifty-seven percent of the total listings had their wording altered or were taken down after the Journal brought the issue to Amazon’s attention. The company stated that it had reviewed the listings and that company policies require all products on its site to comply with federal and state regulations.

But within two weeks of Amazon’s removing or altering the problematic listings, at least 130 items with the same policy violations reappeared – some sold by the same sellers that the Journal identified under different listings before.

The Journal reported that Amazon’s struggle to maintain its site adds to mounting evidence that American tech giants have lost control of their massive platforms – or refuse to control them.

Learn more about Big Tech’s many violations of the law at TechGiants.News.

Sources include:

EcoWatch.com

EPA.gov [PDF]

Phys.org

SeattleTimes.com

WSJ.com

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