Menu

EPA Will Not Ban Pesticide Linked to Neurological Issues

The agency argues that chlorpyrifos is one of few “cost-effective options” for controlling certain farm pests.

Jul 19, 2019
Nicoletta Lanese

ABOVE: © ISTOCK.COM,
VALIO84SL

Yesterday (July 18), the Environmental Protection Agency rejected a long-contested petition challenging the sale of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, a product linked to brain damage in children. The agency announced it would publish its decision in the Federal Register, asserting that data demonstrating the reported health effects is “not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable.”   

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate, hails from the same chemical family as nerve agents such as sarin, famous for its weaponized use in World War II. Studies led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself have found that families exposed to chlorpyrifos in agricultural communities or apartment buildings had children with lower birth weights and reduced IQs, among other developmental issues. 

The pesticide has been largely phased out of residential use since 2000, but its agricultural use remains widespread. Farmers apply chlorpyrifos to more than 50 crops, including apples, almonds, and broccoli, and to control pests such as mosquitos. Since 2007, public health organizations, environmental groups, and several states have petitioned for the EPA to purge the pesticide from the market.  

“The science on chlorpyrifos is clear and unambiguous,” says Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), who introduced legislation to ban the pesticide nationwide, in an interview with The New York Times. “It damages the developing brains of children and causes serious health problems in those who have been exposed to it.”

President Barack Obama’s administration initiated a blanket ban of chlorpyrifos in 2015, but it was repealed by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. A federal appeals court ordered that Pruitt’s decision be reconsidered, leading to the EPA’s decision this week.

“Today’s decision is shameful,” says Kristin Schafer, the executive director of the Pesticide Action Network, in an email to the Washington Post. “It flies in the face of decades of strong scientific evidence, and the recommendations of the agency’s own scientists.” 

Despite the EPA resolution, numerous states, including Hawaii, California, and New York, have moved to eliminate chlorpyrifos use within the next few years. 

“To me, this starts the clock on the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops in the US,” says Kevin Minoli, a former senior EPA attorney, in an interview with the Associate Press. Thursday’s decision could propel the issue to federal court, where the EPA would have to prove with reasonable certainty that chlorpyrifos does not cause harm. 

Nicoletta Lanese is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at nlanese@the-scientist.com.

October 2019

Brain Fog

Air Pollution May Cause Cognitive Decline

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Lonza’s MODA-ES™ Platform helps Nephron Pharmaceuticals move from paper to an EBR in nine months - Case study to be presented at 2019 ISPE Annual Meeting 
Lonza’s MODA-ES™ Platform helps Nephron Pharmaceuticals move from paper to an EBR in nine months - Case study to be presented at 2019 ISPE Annual Meeting 
·        Lonza has partnered with Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation to implement Lonza’s next-generation MODA-ES™ EBR Platform to streamline manufacturing compliance reporting· The MODA-ES™ Platform was implemented at Nephron in an aggressive nine-month time frame, improving operational efficiency and enabling a significant product line expansion·        Full results of the collaboration will be co-presented by Lonza and Nephron at the 2019 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada
Understanding T-cell polyfunctionality: How single cell proteomics data drive CAR-T cell therapy research and development
Understanding T-cell polyfunctionality: How single cell proteomics data drive CAR-T cell therapy research and development
Vladimir Senyukov, Director of BioAnalytical Development at Precision Biosciences, talks about investigating T-cell cytokine production using single cell proteomics in order to unlock the therapeutic potential of allogenic CAR-T cells.
Zymo Research launches new RNA-Seq library prep kit
Zymo Research launches new RNA-Seq library prep kit
Zymo Research is excited to announce the fastest and easiest total RNA-Seq library prep kit that allows users to go from sample to sequencer in a single day!