In his New York Times column over the weekend, “Trump’s Legacy: Damaged Brains,” Nicholas Kristof shone a spotlight on the current administration’s shameless push to keep a dangerous pesticide—linked to learning disabilities in children—on the market, as a favor to the $800 billion chemical industry.
If his introductory paragraph, he wrote:
“The pesticide, which belongs to a class of chemicals developed as a nerve gas made by Nazi Germany, is now found in food, air and drinking water. Human and animal studies show that it damages the brain and reduces I.Q.s while causing tremors among children. It has also been linked to lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease in adults.”
NRDC has been working tirelessly to get this chemical banned for nearly a decade, filing the original petition to EPA with Pesticide Action Network. Working with partner organizations and scientific experts, we succeeded in eliminating indoor uses of chlorpyrifos in 2000, and the agency was on track to ban the chemical last year following an alarming health study revealing the chemical has been found exponentially above safe levels (up to 140 times above it!) on common produce, including kid favorites like apples and oranges.
When Trump took office, however, he put chemical industry officials in charge of chemical safety. The head of Dow Chemical—the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos in the U.S.—even plays a chief advisory role to the President. And sure enough—the administration quickly put the brakes on the ban.
This is troubling for every single one of us who eats fruits and vegetables—especially children and expecting mothers—across the country. And farmworkers and their children face particularly high risks because in addition to the food they eat, the chemical is used so close to where they live, work and go to school—resulting in additional exposures from air, water and dust in their homes.
So NRDC and our partner organizations are not letting up. We’re in the process of appealing directly to EPA to heed the recommendations of its scientists and technical experts to ban the chemical from our food supply. We’re using the courts to protect children’s health if they won’t do the right thing on their own. And we’re supporting leaders in Congress who are standing up for our kids along with us.
No matter how you vote, there are some issues we should all be able to agree on, and this is one of them: Chemicals that are dangerous for our children’s health do not belong on the food we feed our families. And we will not stand by while a powerful industry continues to put them at risk.