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.
It could be this is getting so much attention because it was EPA's first major decision under the Trump Administration. Or it could be because the reversal flies so blatantly in the face of strong scientific evidence — just as thousands of scientists prepare to take to the streets in response to the escalating "war on science."
Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health and Pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said this of Mr. Pruitt's decision:
I think this is a very unfortunate decision. Not only is it scientifically wrong but it's also morally wrong. And it shows a blantant disregard for a very strong body of science."
Or it could be the attention to the chlorpyrifos story is driven by what it reveals about corporate capture in the new administration. The about-face on a pesticide that had been deemed unsafe by the agency's own scientists marks a clear priorization of short-term profits for one corporation — Dow Chemical — over the health of millions of children across the country.
Timothy Egan, for example, highlights the chlorpyrifos decision in his "Poisons Are Us" opinion piece in the New York Times:
The election changed everything. . . From here on out, public health would take a back seat to Dow Chemical.
Pruitt's shameful chlorpyrifos decision deserves to be in the spotlight, and we plan to do all we can to keep it there. We're also fighting back — through the courts, congress, and citizen action — until children and workers across the country are protected from this dangerous insecticide.
Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr