Food and Technology Blog

Concerned citizens across the country reject EPA’s approval of brain-harming pesticide

Posted Jun. 6, 2017 / Posted by: Audrey Fox

More than 145,000 people urge Administrator Pruitt to ban chlorpyrifos to protect children, workers and rural communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends of the Earth, Pesticide Action Network and their allies submitted over 145,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency by yesterday’s deadline, expressing outrage over Administrator Scott Pruitt’s March decision to reverse the planned withdrawal of the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos.

Pruitt’s controversial decision ignores the findings and recommendations of the agency’s own scientists. Even at low levels of exposure, chlorpyrifos can harm human health and is known to be particularly damaging to children’s developing brains.

“Once again, the Trump Administration is putting corporate profits over the health of people and the planet,” said Kendra Klein, Staff Scientist at Friends of the Earth. “Dow Chemical has cultivated a cozy relationship with the Trump Administration: the company delivered $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, and Trump picked Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to head the American Manufacturing Council. The science is overwhelmingly clear that chlorpyrifos is hazardous to our children and communities. We demand that the EPA follow through on its decision to take this neurotoxic pesticide off the market.”

EPA was poised to withdraw chlorpyrifos from the market, in the face of mounting scientific evidence that exposure in the womb and early childhood can derail brain development, leading to developmental delays, lowered IQ and increased risk of ADHD and autism. A health assessment in the fall of 2016 by EPA scientists found that infants were exposed to the chemical at 140 times levels that could be considered safe.

Chlorpyrifos is used on a wide variety of crops, including row crops like corn and soy and many fruits and vegetables. In early May, dozens of farmworkers fell ill and were evacuated from a central California cabbage field when chlorpyrifos and other pesticides drifted from a nearby orchard.
The organizations urging immediate action on chlorpyrifos include Friends of the Earth, Pesticide Action Network, United Farm Workers, Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety and the US Public Interest Research Group. More than 145,000 comments were submitted to EPA’s public comment docket before yesterday’s deadline.

In addition to the action taken by advocates, seven states – New York, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland and Vermont – are urging the EPA to take immediate action and ban chlorpyrifos.

Expert contact: Kendra Klein, (510) 900-3140, kklein@foe.org
Communications contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, ejensen@foe.org

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