EPA keeps brain-damaging pesticide in fruit and vegetable production | Pesticide Action Network
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EPA keeps brain-damaging pesticide in fruit and vegetable production

Spraying pesticides on farm

Chlorpyrifos is linked to learning disabilities in children and is unsafe for farmworkers

For Immediate Release—July 18, 2019         

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced chlorpyrifos can still be used on food crops. This decision meets the deadline ordered in April by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for the EPA to make a final decision on a petition to ban chlorpyrifos use on food crops.  

Chlorpyrifos was banned from home use nearly two decades ago, but agricultural use is ongoing. Studies show that exposure to chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides in infants and children is associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and even autism.    

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Executive Director Kristin Schafer issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed, but not at all surprised by today’s announcement from EPA. This administration has made perfectly clear who they are working for, as again and again they put corporate interests ahead of the health of children, workers and the environment.

“In the face of years of delay and failure by EPA, states are now stepping up to protect communities from chlorpyrifos. Last month’s cancelation of all uses of this chemical in California follows similar legislative action in Hawaiʻi and New York; bills have also been introduced in Oregon, Maryland, Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Today’s decision is shameful. It flies in the face of decades of strong scientific evidence, and the recommendations of the agency’s own scientists. This administration is putting children, workers and rural families across the country at continued risk for no good reason, and we will continue to press for a full federal ban of this dangerous chemical.”

Background:

Today’s decision comes over two years after the Trump administration reversed EPA’s own proposal to ban chlorpyrifos. That decision happened weeks after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the head of the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Dow Chemical (renamed Corteva after merging with DuPont), which sells the chemical under the name of Lorsban. Last year, the appellate court ordered EPA to finalize its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos based on undisputed findings that the pesticide is unsafe for public health and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers, but EPA asked and received a rehearing. In March of 2019, advocates represented by Earthjustice, including PAN, argued again in court that chlorpyrifos has no place in fruit or vegetable production, and in April the court ordered EPA to issue a chlorpyrifos decision. 

“Every day we go without a ban, children and farmworkers are eating, drinking and breathing a pesticide linked to intellectual and learning disabilities and poisonings,” said the 12 plaintiff organizations represented by Earth Justice challenging the 2017 decision. “We will continue to fight until chlorpyrifos is banned and children and farmworkers are safe from this dangerous chemical.” 

Contact:
Ahna Kruzic, ahna@panna.org, 510 927 5379

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Pesticide Action Network works to create a just, thriving food system. PAN works alongside those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure — from farmworkers to rural communities to beekeepers. PAN links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. Together, we challenge the global proliferation of pesticides, defend basic rights to health and environmental quality, and work to ensure the transition to a just and viable food system.