Victory: Children and farmworkers secure long-awaited protections
August 18, 2021
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule banning all food uses of the nerve-agent pesticide chlorpyrifos. According to the new regulation signed by the EPA today, all food uses of chlorpyrifos would be revoked six months from the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register, which will likely happen in the coming weeks. Additionally, non-food uses of pesticide, such as mosquito control and nurseries, would be subject to review later in 2022. The agency will be posting their new final rule later today. In April, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos or retain only those uses it can find safe for children, as a result of a lawsuit filed by health and labor organizations represented by Earthjustice.
“It took far too long, but children will no longer be eating food tainted with a pesticide that causes intellectual learning disabilities. Chlorpyrifos will finally be out of our fruits and vegetables,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. “But chlorpyrifos is just one of dozens of organophosphate pesticides in our fields that can harm children’s development. EPA must ban all organophosphates from food.”
Earlier this month, Earthjustice released a report showing the wide-spread use of chlorpyrifos in the United States and how the country is exposed to this pesticide through drinking water, food, and air. This report documents the location and amount of chlorpyrifos usage in the United States, as well as the dangerous health effects associated with exposure. The data Earthjustice analyzed, which includes information on 16 other organophosphates, is available for the public to extract and explore in a searchable database at earthjustice.org/organophosphates.
Studies from Columbia University, University of California Berkeley, and other renowned institutions show that chlorpyrifos can damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders. Chlorpyrifos is just one among an entire class of chemicals known as organophosphate pesticides (OP), including sarin nerve gas. First developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare, OPs were later repurposed for agricultural uses. Dozens of organophosphates are used in fruits and vegetables in the United States.
Quotes from our clients:
“Today, we celebrate this huge victory alongside the men and women who harvest our food, who have waited too long for a ban on this pesticide,” said Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers. “We are relieved that farmworkers and their families will no longer have to worry about the myriad of ways this pesticide could impact their lives.”
“Today the EPA has released a plan that aligns with what scientists have known for decades: chlorpyrifos is much too dangerous to be using, and its continued use has put children, farmworkers and rural communities at risk,” says Kristin Schafer, executive director at Pesticide Action Network (PAN).
“Scientific studies overwhelmingly show that prenatal and early childhood exposures to chlorpyrifos, even at low levels, disrupt children’s brain development and can result in lower IQ, behavior and attention issues, and learning and developmental disabilities,” said Tracy Gregoire with the Learning Disabilities Association of America. “Finally, we will protect future generations by stopping this acutely toxic pesticide from being sprayed into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fruits and vegetables we eat.”
“We are relieved that the EPA has finally put an end to the use of chlorpyrifos. Years of backtracking put the health of countless children and farmworkers at risk by negligently and intentionally overlooking the harms of a terrible pesticide,” said Anne Katten, Pesticide and Work Safety Project director at the CRLA Foundation. “Finally, our fields are made safer for farmworkers and our fruits and vegetables are safer for our children.”
“We are pleased that the EPA finally put a robust plan to ban chlorpyrifos in motion. This pesticide was banned for residential use some 20 years ago, because of its known impacts on children living in urban areas,” said Jeannie Economos from the Farmworker Association of Florida. “Farmworker children in rural areas are just as valuable as children anywhere in the world, and it is unconscionable that it has taken so long to provide equal protection to these beautiful, yet vulnerable children in our agricultural communities.”
“We are gratified that the EPA has released a chlorpyrifos plan that prioritizes science and truth over politics,” said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, Senior Scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The Trump administration stalled regulations that would have prevented chlorpyrifos from further damaging human health. The EPA is now prioritizing scientific evidence and protect families from being poisoned by this very toxic pesticide, as it should have done long ago.”
Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Pesticide Action Network North America, Natural Resources Defense Council, United Farm Workers, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos, Learning Disability Association of America, League of United Latin American Citizens, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.