Chlorpyrifos might not quite be a household word yet, but it's getting there. The story of the astonishing decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse course on agency plans to pull this child-harming insecticide off the market has captured headlines across the country and around the world.
On Wednesday, Scott Pruitt signed his first official action as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The New York Times headline captures it well: "EPA Chief, Rejecting Agency's Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide." Well, then.
Well then. If there was ever any doubt that the new administration's oft-stated commitment to "clean air and water" was insincere, there's no question now. Just as Trump was reading these hollow words in his address to Congress, his team was proposing draconian cuts to the agency whose job it is to protect our resources and health.
With dizzying speed, the new administration has set to work rolling back years of progress on public health protections, climate change, civil liberties and women's rights. They've moved to muzzle our public agencies and launch an all out war on science, a free press, indigenous lands, religious freedom, immigrants and the value of facts.
All of this in week one.
Our children's health is not negotiable. This is the message we need to send federal officials — loud and clear — as President Obama's EPA takes final comments on their proposal to withdraw almost all remaining uses of the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos.
Ag ban long overdue
It's already taken much too long for the agency to do the right thing. Way back in 2001, science indicating that chlorpyrifos harms children's developing nervous system was strong enough to warrant agency action to ban all household uses of the chemical.
As questions about the legitimacy of the Trump presidency continue to emerge, the president-elect and his team are plowing forward with some astonishing choices to lead our federal agencies.
Like other public interest and social justice groups across the country, we're wrestling with exactly what the recent election means for our work going forward. This will take some time to sort, but one thing is already crystal clear: our efforts will be more challenging — and more critical — than ever before. We're ready.
This is a very different post-election blog than the one I planned to write. I was going to call the new president's attention to the political importance of food and farming, highlighting the fact that how we grow our food directly impacts the health of our families, the well-being of our communities and the future of our planet. All of that is still true, but the political winds have dramatically shifted.
Well that took awhile. In early September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of products they will no longer allow in soaps. On that list was the pesticide triclosan — which was identified as a chemical of concern in 1972.
As I follow the news from this very unusual (!) presidential election cycle, it's clear that food and farming issues aren't high on the political agenda — which is a shame. Fixing our very broken system could help us tackle a wide range of health, equity and environmental issues, including our resilience in the face of a changing climate.