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Federal Court Urged to Order Pesticide Ban

Chlorpyrifos is used extensively on apples and other fruits and vegetables. (Skitterphoto/Pixabay)
Chlorpyrifos is used extensively on apples and other fruits and vegetables. (Skitterphoto/Pixabay)
July 10, 2018

NEW YORK – A federal court will determine if the EPA should be ordered to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.

Seven states and a coalition of environmental and labor groups made final arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday in their challenge to the EPA's refusal to ban chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate related to sarin nerve gas.

According to Hector Sanchez, executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, a ban on the agricultural use of the chemical is long overdue.

"These pesticides are very toxic for farm workers," he says. "They have been proven to lower the IQ of children, they have loss of working memory and attention deficit disorders, something that is totally unacceptable."

Against the recommendation of its own scientists, last year the EPA claimed the science on chlorpyrifos is "unresolved" and allowed its use to continue until it revisits the issue in 2022.

Sanchez notes the Trump administration makes the same claim about climate change. And he points out that prior to allowing continued use of chlorpyrifos, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical, maker of the pesticide.

"The corporations are heavily invested in supporting this kind of politicians, but the farm workers don't have a seat at the table," he laments. "There are no spaces in this administration to listen on why we should not be using this pesticide."

He adds that Latinos account for 75 percent of agricultural workers in the United States.

Chlorpyrifos is used extensively on apples, a major crop in New York, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. It was banned for residential use almost 20 years ago. Sanchez says the EPA's refusal to ban agricultural use puts everyone at risk.

"Corporations are profiting at the expense of the health of our children and families, and this is a call to action," he adds. "This is a call to end the pain of our families."

Last month the state of Hawaii banned the agricultural use of chlorpyrifos.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY