October 31, 2001

See background info

Contacts: Anne Morse - President GRRN
Bill Sheehan - Executive Director GRRN
(706) 613-7121
(Bill Sheehan)

Dow Urged to Withdraw Weed Killer
Persistent Herbicides Threaten Organics
Recycling Industry

MINNEAPOLIS, October 31 -- Dow Chemical Company CEO, Michael Parker, is the target of an e-mail campaign demanding that Dow's wholly-owned subsidiary, Dow AgroSciences, take Confront and other persistent, clopyralid-containing herbicides off the market until DOW can demonstrate their safety to both backyard and centralized composting processes.

The web-based campaign has been launched by the Athens, GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) at

"Confront is totally contradictory to all of our goals for recycling, resource conservation and sustainability," said GRRN president Anne Morse. "Dow's proposal that the solution lies in educating composters and making composters pay for expensive laboratory testing is completely unacceptable."

"Dow must follow the Precautionary Principle and withdraw Confront immediately until it can be proven safe for organics recycling. And Dow must take full financial responsibility for damage caused by its products," Morse said.
Losses in Washington State, particularly in the Spokane and Pullman area, due to unmarketable compost, are significant, according to state and industry officials.
Recently, a class of extremely persistent herbicide products in turf and agricultural applications, of which clopyralid is a member, has been detected in finished compost in Washington State, Pennsylvania and New Zealand, according to the trade journal, BioCycle.

According to BioCycle: "Sensitive plants like tomatoes, beans and sunflower grown in compost containing clopyralid can be deformed and damaged. Even compost containing manure from animals that have eaten hay treated with picloram, a Dow chemical in the same class, have been damaged by minute quantities of the herbicide."

"Dow AgroSciences claims to have fulfilled its obligations with its label warning," said Gabriella Ulnar-Heffner, a Seattle Public Utilities program development specialist. "The label is totally inadequate since its message is only being delivered to the commercial applicator who applies the chemical to lawns and not to the homeowner or lawn maintenance company who collects the grass clippings and makes the compost. Moreover, clopyralid levels have been detected in compost products produced from such agricultural residuals as manures, straw and animal bedding."
"Persistent herbicides threaten state and local government programs that promote both backyard and centralized composting as the best management method of dealing with yard trimmings," Morse said. "Compost improves regional soil quality, reduces water consumption demands and improves water quality. Many communities ban the disposal of yard trimmings with garbage and many states prohibit the disposal of yard trimmings in landfills."

The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a North American network of waste reduction activists and professionals dedicated to achieving sustainable production and consumption based on the principle of Zero Waste. The e-letter and more information can be found at GRRN's Web site,

Contact GrassRoots Recycling Network:
Anne Morse, president (MN) Tel: 507-457-6468 -
Bill Sheehan, executive director (GA) Tel: 706-613-7121 - (Bill Sheehan)


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