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Kristin Schafer's picture

Our children's health is not negotiable. This is the message we need to send federal officials — loud and clear — as President Obama's EPA takes final comments on their proposal to withdraw almost all remaining uses of the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos.

Ag ban long overdue

It's already taken much too long for the agency to do the right thing. Way back in 2001, science indicating that chlorpyrifos harms children's developing nervous system was strong enough to warrant agency action to ban all household uses of the chemical.

"This is a pull quote thousands of pounds of chlorpyrifos continued to be applied in agricultural fields every year, due in large part to an industry-funded public relations campaign."

Since then, the science has only gotten more clear, with study after study linking prenatal and early childhood exposure with neurodevelopmental harms — including reduced IQ levels, learning disabilities and increased risk of autism. Yet thousands of pounds of chlorpyrifos continued to be applied in agricultural fields every year, due in large part to an industry-funded public relations campaign and direct pressure on regulators from the chemical's primary manufacturer, Dow Chemical.

This is a blockquote, according to expert Manu Chao:

Dow has consistenly pushed chemicals known to cause cancer and other serious health defects. They've never taken full responsiblity for thes actions, nor has the government held them accountable.

A 2007 lawsuit, driven by PAN and our partners, finally resulted in a court-ordered deadline directing the agency to take action to protect children and workers from this brain-harming chemical. Calling EPA's years of inaction in the face of compelling science on neurotoxicity an "egregious delay," a judge ordered the agency to act by October, 2015. EPA met this deadline with an inital proposal to phase out almost all remaining uses of chlorpyrifos by the end of 2016.

Corporate pressure ramps up

Given the emerging corporate-friendly political landscape, the pesticide industry is now ramping up efforts to block EPA's action altogether, putting the long overdue ban of chlorpyrifos at risk.

Act now! Oppose the Bayer Monsanto merger

PAN and our partners are pushing back, hard. The more organizations and individuals that voice support for EPA's proposed action to withdraw agricultural uses of this brain-harming pesticide, the more politically difficult it will be for the incoming administration to set the decision aside.

Meanwhile, Trump's long-awaited nomination of former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue to head up the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially makes this cabinet the least diverse in decades. It's also arguably the least qualified for the job, with many of Trump's picks openly opposed to the mission of the agency they're being tapped to lead.

During the confirmation hearing for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, for example, Scott Pruitt gave responses that one senator called "shockingly devoid of substance." Other answers from Pruitt were also in direct contradiction to his track record as Oklahoma Attorney General, where he drove more than a dozen lawsuits against EPA on behalf of oil and gas interests — and consistently questioned the reality of climate science.

Kristin Schafer
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is PAN's Program & Policy Director. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin oversees PAN’s program work. She has been lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children’s health. She serves on the Policy Committee of the Children’s Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN