Chlorpyrifos is a widely-used pesticide with a trail of evidence of harm to children’s brain development. Prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos is known to reduce gray matter in fetuses and subsequently to lower IQs in children. EPA research has confirmed this danger, and the chemical was slated to be banned by the Obama administration. The decision, a political football, was reached at the conclusion of Obama’s presidency, and the ban was to be enacted by the incoming administration.
The Trump EPA rescinded the ban, leading to a lawsuit filed by public interest groups. In 2018, a federal court ordered the EPA to finalize the ban. Last week, the agency announced its decision not to ban chlorpyrifos. Read the whole story in the article below.
Chlorpyrifos is prohibited for use in organic agriculture, but more than half of all conventional apples and broccoli and a high percentage of conventional walnuts, asparagus, cauliflower, lemons, cherries, pecans, almonds, and peaches are treated with chlorpyrifos. Residues of the toxin remain on these foods even after washing and peeling (where reasonable). A recent study conducted by researchers at Emory University found that 59% of conventional milk samples contained chlorpyrifos.
Unsurprisingly, industry stakeholders present a different view. Phil Jost of Dow AgroSciences said in 2016, “The [EPA] assessment lacks scientific rigor, is contrary to EPA and Administration policies of data access and transparency in scientific decision-making, and falls short of the FIFRA requirement that decisions be based on valid, complete and reliable scientific data.”
To date, Hawaii, California, and New York have passed bans on chlorpyrifos, though these bans may not take effect for several years.
Cornucopia will continue to monitor this story as it unfolds.
EPA will not ban use of controversial pesticide linked to children’s health problems
The Washington Post
by Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin
The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition by environmental and public health groups Thursday to ban a widely used pesticide that has been linked to neurological damage in children, even though a federal court said last year there was “no justification” for such a decision.
In a notice to the Federal Register on Thursday, the agency wrote that “critical questions remained regarding the significance of the data” that suggests that chlorpyrifos causes neurological damage in young children. The agency said that the Obama administration’s decision to ban the product — used on more than 50 crops, including grapes, broccoli and strawberries — was based on epidemiological studies rather than direct tests on animals, which have historically been used by the EPA to determine a pesticide’s safety.
The EPA’s decision, which represented a win for industry, drew swift condemnation from groups that have pushed for years to remove the pesticide from the market.