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USA: the Environmental Protection Agency and chlorpyrifos

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Nominated by President Trump in December 2016, Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in February 2017. One of his first major decisions was to abort the Agency's proposed ban on the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos for use on food crops. The organisation Just Label It ( is calling on consumers and retailers to take action.

The product

Sold by Dow AgroSciences, chlorpyrifos is licensed for use on nearly 50 foodcrops. Although Dow has acknowledged the dangerous health effects of this product and voluntarily withdrew it for household use in 2000, it is still widely applied in conventional agriculture.

The evidence

Just label It, founded in 2012 and a vocal advocate of transparency and the mandatory labelling of GMO products,  maintains that the decision by Pruitt and the Trump administration has ignored overwhelming evidence that even small amount of this insecticide can damage the human brain. It has pointed out elsewhere that Chlorpyrifos is extremely hazardous and has been linked to autism, ADHD and lower IQs in young children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy. Farmworkers and others who experience severe exposure have suffered vomiting, muscle cramps, diarrhoea, blurred vision, loss of consciousness and even paralysis.

In 2015, the EPA found that some people are being exposed to high levels of chlorpyrifos via food or contaminated water. In its  most recent tests of produce for pesticide residues, the US Department of Agriculture detected chlorpyrifos on 20 percent of peaches imported from Chile. Although in the US chlorpyrifos is used mostly on soy, corn and oranges, it is applied to more than 30 percent of domestic apples, asparagus, walnuts, onions, grapes, broccoli, cherries and cauliflower.

The campaign

Just Label It sees the actions of  Scott Pruitt as evidence that he is working in the interest of agro-industry and not the American people and argues that this chemical has no place in their food system. That’s why they’ve joined forces with Environmental Working Group (EWG), SierraRise and Food Revolution Network to continue the fight by asking grocery retailers to say no to chlorpyrifos. They have launched a petition calling on major companies like Safeway, Kroger and Publix to take action and refuse to sell produce that has been sprayed with chlorpyrifos and to stand up for the health of their customers. Katrin Staves from Just Label It, makes the organisation's position clear: if the government isn’t going to protect consumers from chlorpyrifos, they need to make sure retailers know that the public will hold them accountable if they sell produce contaminated with this toxic pesticide.


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