Trump’s EPA Greenlit This Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage. Eight Senators Are Fighting Back.

A new bill would put an agricultural ban on chlorpyrifos.

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Tuesday, two senators introduced a bill that would ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in kids. The legislation would do what the Environmental Protection Agency had long planned to—before EPA Chief Scott Pruitt denied the agency’s own proposal in March. Pruitt’s move was widely considered a signal from the Trump Administration on its intent to relax environmental regulations.

The new bill, called Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017, was introduced by Tom Udall of New Mexico and has seven other co-sponsors, including California senator Kamala Harris (about a fifth of all chlorpyrifos used in the US is used on crops in California).

My colleague Tom Philpott wrote about the health risks associated with chlorpyrifos and Pruitt’s denial of its ban here.

The pesticide, largely manufactured by a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, is classified as a neurotoxin by the Center for Disease Control and is known to interfere with human hormones. Studies have found strong evidence that it could cause a lower IQ or increase the risk of autism in young children. Chlorpyrifos is sprayed on corn and soybeans in the Midwest and fruit and vegetable crops in the Southeast, Washington, and California. Shortly after the EPA greenlit the pesticide last spring, farmers in Southern California experienced nausea and vomiting after being exposed to drift from a nearby field.  

Even if a federal ban doesn’t pass, groups in California are calling on state officials to create a state-wide ban. Earlier this month, district attorneys in six states filed a suit challenging the EPA’s decision. 

“Congress must act because Administrator Pruitt has shown that he won’t,” Udall said in a statement. “The science hasn’t changed since EPA proposed banning chlorpyrifos in 2015 and 2017. Only the politics have.”

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate