Chlorpyrifos Ban a Welcome but Long Overdue Recognition of Pesticide’s Threat to Public Health

Statement by Genna Reed, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 19, 2021

WASHINGTON (August 19, 2021)—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food. The pesticide has been linked to neurological damage in children and poses a risk to farmworkers and their families and rural drinking water. The ban is a necessary protection for public health and an encouraging sign that EPA leaders will listen to the science and do their job on behalf of underserved communities, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Genna Reed, senior analyst for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“Science and justice have finally won out. With today’s rule banning food uses of chlorpyrifos, the U.S. EPA has acknowledged the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that the pesticide is a clear hazard to public health, causing harm to farmworkers and communities. Chlorpyrifos has been shown to be particularly dangerous to fetal and child brain development.

“The decision to allow the continued use of chlorpyrifos was a signal failure of the previous administration. The EPA’s legal obligation is to look at the evidence and make rules in the broader public interest. Instead, political appointees in the previous administration picked and chose the evidence they wanted and discarded the rest, relying on disinformation from the chemical industry instead of the best available scientific data. These political appointees ignored calls from environmental justice advocates, independent public health experts, the federal courts, and the EPA’s own scientists to ban chlorpyrifos.

A UCS analysis found that nearly two million children under age five living in agricultural communities, mostly low-income communities and communities of color, have faced a likely increased risk of harm to their brains and nervous systems because of the EPA’s failure to act on chlorpyrifos use. This injustice is appalling, especially since that harm was preventable but for the previous administration’s deliberate refusal to do anything about it.

“By finally banning chlorpyrifos, Administrator Michael Regan and the EPA are demonstrating that they’ll listen to the evidence and act to protect public health. We can’t and won’t accept anything less moving forward.”