Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network

California’s Attorney General Asks EPA to Ban Brain-Harming Pesticide

Agricultural communities urge state to take immediate action to protect children, farmworkers and rural families

For Immediate Release: June 6, 2017

Sacramento, CA – California Attorney General (AG) Xavier Becerra joined six other states in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to follow through on a proposed ban for the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos, in a legal filing made public today. Farmworker families and people living in agricultural communities urge state officials to follow the AG’s call for federal action with immediate steps to protect farmworkers and communities from contaminated air and water caused by continued use of the neurotoxic insecticide in California fields.

“…no parent should have to question if these healthy foods are unsafe for their children to consume. EPA Administrator Pruitt has to put the health of the American people ahead of profits for companies,” said Attorney General Becerra.

The filing comes after EPA scientists concluded that chlorpyrifos could not be used safely and  Obama Administration officials proposed to to ban the pesticide on food crops. Newly appointed Administrator Scott Pruitt ignored those findings and refused to ban chlorpyrifos (or, “revoke all tolerances”), despite a court-mandated timeline for action. Attorneys general from seven states (New York, California, Washington, Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts) filed formal objections as part of the federal administrative process, concluding that the demonstrated risk to children necessitated immediate action from EPA and that further delay was inconsistent with the law.

“California’s chief law officer is standing up for farmworkers and families living in agricultural communities that have been spurned by Trump’s EPA. State officials must follow this example and protect these families at greatest risk from this brain-harming pesticide,” said Angel Garcia, a community organizer with El Quinto Sol de America, who works in largely unincorporated communities in Tulare and Fresno counties where homes directly abut citrus orchards where chlorpyrifos is used. “We applaud the AG’s efforts but our communities cannot wait for the federal process. We need state protections now.”

In their filing, Becerra and the attorneys general state: “The Administrator’s order to leave tolerances in effect that EPA has not found to be safe has potential human health impacts and is therefore directly contrary to the States’ interest of protecting the health and welfare of their citizens.”

The states are joining a lengthy legal process that began after the pesticide was banned for indoor use in 2001. PAN North America and NRDC first petitioned for federally mandated protections for children from the pesticide in 2007, and the litigation has drawn on for more than a decade. California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, despite independent authority to act, has yet to do so. Both groups, as well as other members of Californians for Pesticide Reform, filed an administrative appeal and additional legal action in the ninth circuit court this week.

Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082


Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR) is a statewide coalition of more than 190 organizations, founded in 1996 to fundamentally shift the way pesticides are used in California.

Photo: Bread for the World | Flickr

Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network

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