Today, health and labor organizations sued EPA for refusing to ban a pesticide growers view as a useful tool, but that the plaintiffs say is linked to damaging children’s brains.
“EPA has repeatedly found chlorpyrifos unsafe, especially to children, yet time and time again it refuses to protect kids,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice managing attorney handling the case. “But Earthjustice and our clients won’t stand for this. The science and the law call for a chlorpyrifos ban. We are hopeful the courts will do the same for the sake of children and farmworkers.”
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.
Advocates and seven states have been battling the Trump administration in court to get a chlorpyrifos ban. Moreover, some states are not waiting for the EPA and have filed bills of their own to ban the pesticide.
California growers have been concerned about losing the use of chlorpyrifos for decades. In May, the California Environmental Protection Agency officially announced the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s sunset of chlorpyrifos in the state.
In New York, legislators just recently passed a ban bill that awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature, spurring the support of more than 80 New York State coalition members that banded together to urge Cuomo to sign ban into law.
Hawaii passed a bill to ban chlorpyrifos in 2018. And California, the largest agricultural state in the nation, started a process to ban the pesticide. The European Union is also considering a ban for 2020.
Nationally, in response to a court deadline, last month EPA said chlorpyrifos can still be used on fruits and vegetables, even though studies show that exposures to chlorpyrifos in infants and children are associated with reduced IQ, attention disorders, and autism.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (OP), a class of chemicals developed for chemical warfare, and later repurposed for agricultural uses. Chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides are used on a wide variety of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops.
Chlorpyrifos and the other OP pesticides were banned from almost all home use nearly two decades ago. EPA proposed banning chlorpyrifos from food crops in 2015. But shortly after Trump took office, the EPA in 2017 refused to finalize the proposed ban, stating the science is “unresolved.”