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Pesticide Action Network

Court orders EPA to decide whether to ban brain-damaging pesticide from food

Chlorpyrifos is linked to neurodevelopmental damage unsafe to farmworkers

For Immediate ReleaseApril 19, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered EPA to decide by mid-July whether to ban chlorpyrifos, the organophosphate pesticide linked to neurodevelopmental damage in children.  

Chlorpyrifos was banned from home use nearly two decades ago, as it is toxic to children, but agricultural use is ongoing. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Executive Director Kristin Schafer issued the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a clear win for children’s health. It’s also a win for farmworkers and rural communities who continue to be needlessly exposed to this dangerous chemical. And it’s a win for science, which for well over a decade has clearly shown that chlorpyrifos harms children’s developing brains and nervous systems. It’s deeply disturbing that it’s taken multiple court orders to force EPA to do its job. This is the agency tasked with protecting public health and the environment from harmful chemicals, but under this administration it puts industry profits first, every time.”

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. Last month, advocates represented by Earthjustice, including PAN, argued again in court that chlorpyrifos has no place near fruits or vegetables.  

“We commend the court for this ruling as it forces the EPA to stop stalling,” said Patti Goldman, Earthjustice attorney. “While we are moving forward, the tragedy is that children are being exposed to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide science has long shown is unsafe. We hope Trump’s EPA finally decides to protect the future of countless children and the health of millions of farmworkers.”

Today’s court ruling comes two years after the Trump administration reversed EPA’s own proposal to ban this pesticide. That decision happened weeks after former EPA boss Scott Pruitt met with the head of the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Dow Chemical (renamed Corteva after merging with DuPont), which sells it under the name of Lorsban. In 2017 Pruitt falsely claimed the science is “unresolved,” and decided EPA would study the issue until 2022 even though agency scientists said chlorpyrifos is unsafe.

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used agricultural pesticide linked to reduced IQ, attention deficit disorder and other developmental damage in children, according to multiple studies. Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate that comes from the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas, is used on foods like strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, corn and more.

Read the legal document.



Ahna Kruzic, Pesticide Action Network, (510) 927-5379, [email protected]

Alejandro Dávila, Earth Justice National Communications Strategist, (202) 797-5251, [email protected]


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.

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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