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U.S Environmentalists Lose Bid to Restore EPA Ban on Chlorpyrifos Pesticide

Published: July 20, 2019
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Source: Eco Daily News

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it will not ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to health issues in children, from use on U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables. The agency denied the petition by a dozen environmental groups, led by Earthjustice, to ban the pesticide. They said studies show that exposures to the pesticide is liked to low birth weight, reduced IQ, attention disorders and other issues in infants and children.

The Obama administration’s EPA had banned the use of chlorpyrifos in 2015 after it decided it could not be certain whether exposure to the chemical in food and water would be harmful. But Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, reversed that decision in 2017, prompting an ongoing legal battle. In April, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA had until mid-July to decide whether to reverse Pruitt’s overturn of the ban on chlorpyrifos.

The pesticide is made by Corteva Agriscience, formerly part of DowDuPont. “We are committed to working with the Agency as it seeks to make an accurate assessment and, if necessary, reduce potential exposures, while also ensuring that growers for whom chlorpyrifos is a critical tool can continue to use the product safely,” said Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for the firm, in an email to Reuters.

In its denial order submitted to the court, the EPA’s assistant administrator for chemicals said the agency denied all of the objections listed by the environmental groups and said there was not enough evidence to link exposure to chlorpyrifos to children’s health issues.

“After reviewing the objections, EPA has determined that the objections related to Petition claims regarding neurodevelopmental toxicity must be denied because the objections and the underlying Petition are not supported by valid, complete, and reliable evidence sufficient to meet the Petitioners’ burden,” wrote Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator for chemical safety.

The denial also said that chlorpyrifos is “currently the only cost-effective choice for control of certain insect pests.” The environmental groups said on Thursday they will continue to fight the decision until chlorpyrifos is banned. “Every day we go without a ban, children and farmworkers are eating, drinking and breathing a pesticide linked to intellectual and learning disabilities and poisonings,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ignored the advice of EPA scientists who supported a ban. “If the Trump administration had followed the advice of its scientists, chlorpyrifos likely would not be in the food and milk kids eat and drink today,” he said.

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A divided federal appeals court on Thursday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban a widely-used pesticide that critics say can harm children and farmers. The 2-1 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle overturned former EPA commissioner Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 denial of a petition by environmental groups to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Dow heavily promoted this rosy vision of chlorpyrifos. Even as it was spinning the science, collecting reports of poisoning incidents, and fending off legal responsibility for them, Dow — or Dowelanco, as it was called at the time — was also boasting about the safety of its pesticide.

The Kauai agricultural workers were exposed to the insecticide chlorpyrifos, used on corn, which is currently under consideration for a ban by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More than 3.5 tons of the pesticide were used in Hawaii in 2014 despite concerns over its environmental effects, as well as adverse health implications. The insecticide was also recently found in what were once considered protected water sources. Joshua Uyehara, Syngenta Hawaii’s continuous nursery site manager, said in a phone interview that a field supervisor realized that the employees shouldn’t have been in the field within a few minutes after they entered it. Syngenta would not tell anyone what symptoms the 10 workers endured, but they were severe enough that after taking them to Syngenta’s offices and ‘cleaning them up,’ they still needed to go to the hospital.Researchers from New York University (NYU) have published a study showing how endocrine disrupting elements found in common chemicals and pesticides “could be disrupting hormones resulting in health costs of up to €157 billion ($209 billion) across Europe.” Thomas Zoeller, biology professor at the University of Massachusetts (UM), told the press : “I hear often this concept that if there isn’t overt toxicity, you don’t have a problem. The effects of EDCs on the population level are not consistent with overt toxicity like death or cancer. A decrease in IQ is not something that’s visible on the surface, but you are taking away human potential.”A Columbia University study followed low-income black and Hispanic families. Here, each additional 4.6 picrograms of chlorpyrifos per gram of blood in a woman during pregnancy correlated with a drop of 1.4 percent in her youngster’s IQ and 2.8 percent in a measure of the child’s working memory.

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