A year ago last Friday, Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ignored the recommendations of his agency’s own scientists and rejected a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to brain damage and developmental delays in children. Soon after the decision was announced, we published a list of the Upper Valley farms that refuse to use the pesticide. You can find that list here.
Chlorpyrifos (“klor-PEER-a-foss”) is an organophosphate pesticide. It is sprayed on crops to kill insects. The pesticide is a junior-strength nerve agent, similar to the notorious nerve gas, sarin.
Chlorpyrifos is sprayed as a fine mist on many U.S. crops, including apples, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, almonds, walnuts, cherries, peaches, pears, corn, and wheat. The EPA proposed a complete ban on chlorpyrifos in 2015, citing significant risks to children and farmworkers. In a risk analysis published in 2016, the agency said children were exposed to up to 140 times the safe levels of the pesticide through food alone.
SO WHERE DO THINGS STAND TODAY?
Last spring, attorneys general from seven states, public health advocates, and farmworker and environmental activists joined forces to fight the Pruitt decision. By July, lawmakers were drafting a bill to ban chlorpyrifos.