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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to continue serving up American-farmed produce with a side of potential fetal nerve damage.
After its own environmental experts advised that chemical pesticide chlorpyrifos, also commonly known as Dursban or Lorsban, could be potentially harmful for consumers, the EPA decided to deny the petition to ban the chemical used on farms across the U.S.
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Chloropyrifos, which was formerly a common ingredient in home, lawn and garden bug killers, was already banned in 2000 from use indoors, as its inhalation or ingestion can cause lasting nerve damage, particularly in children. But as of today, it's still used on fruit and vegetable farms all over the country on crops like citrus fruits, almonds, soybeans, cranberries, apples, strawberries, broccoli and cauliflower.
Chloropyrifos attacks the nervous system and is toxic to small animals, birds, ducks, fish, bees, and earthworms, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. They also warn, referencing a study by Columbia University, that, "Researchers studied the blood of women who were exposed to chlorpyrifos and the blood of their children from birth for three years. Children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than children who did not have chlorpyrifos in their blood. Exposed children also had more attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity disorders."
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"Based on the harm that this pesticide causes, the EPA cannot, consistent with the law, allow it in our food," Patti Goldman, an attorney with the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, told NPR.
In 2015, the EPA under the Obama administration proposed to ban the pesticide altogether due to its potential to impair fetal brain and nervous-system development in the children of farm workers or others who live near farms, since they can accidentally be exposed to heavy doses of the product through their drinking water and other sources.
There has been controversy over the conclusiveness of the many studies attempting to assess the potential nerve damage caused by ingestion of chloropyrifos, including some questions raised at a scientific review panel this summer, yet the EPA stood by its proposal to ban the chemical.
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But the EPA’s new leader under the Trump administration, Scott Pruitt, who formerly fought against the EPA in favor of industrial interests, decided not to ban the pesticide, and instead to side with Dow Agrosciences to wait on further studies.
Dow Agrosciences, the company producing and selling the pesticide, maintains that chlorpyrifos should be continued to be used, and that there are "margins of protection for human health and safety" in its use.
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“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” Pruitt said in a written statement. “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making—rather than predetermined results.”
Proven fetal damage from the chemical seems like it should be sound enough science for any agency, but it appears Pruitt, and the company profiting from the sale of the pesticide, would disagree.
The article The Government Just Chose Not To Ban This Toxic Pesticide Linked To Brain Damage In Kids originally appeared on Rodale’s Organic Life.