U.S. Military Spraying 6 Million Acres in Texas with Toxic Pesticide Banned in Europe in Response to Harvey
Amid statewide efforts to clean up the aftermath left by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon announced last week that it had dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing in order to "assist with recovery efforts in eastern Texas." However, these "recovery efforts" have little to do with rebuilding damaged structures or with the resettlement of evacuees. Instead, they are set to spray chemicals in order to help "control pest insect populations," which they allege pose a "health risk to rescue workers and residents of Houston." The Pentagon has requested that the planes treat more than 6 million acres throughout the Houston area. While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to "assist" as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. The insecticide Naled, manufactured and sold by a strategic partner of Monsanto, is currently banned in the European Union due to the "unacceptable risk" it presents to human health. Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase—an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication—and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled's responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees.