Federal Court Orders the Removal of This Brain-Damaging Pesticide From Foods

Cheyenne Buckingham
·2-min read

A federal court recently ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action toward banning the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The pesticide was first scheduled to be banned in 2016 by the Obama administration, however, the Trump EPA "changed course the next year without providing any scientific justification for its decision," the Intercept reports.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the pesticide is currently licensed for use on nearly 50 food crops, which include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and even milk. (Related: Costco Foods You Should Always Avoid, According to Nutritionists)

Why is chlorpyrifos such a big concern?

In February, the EWG called on the EPA to ban the use of the brain-damaging pesticide in a public comment letter, as studies have shown exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy can result in reduced IQ, delayed development of motor and sensory functions, as well as social and behavioral dysfunction.

An EPA risk assessment conducted in 2016 concluded that dietary exposures to chlorpyrifos for children between the ages of 1-2 years old could be greater than 140 times the suggested safe levels.

"The numbers are alarming, especially because even tiny amounts of this pesticide can cause irreparable neurological damage to children," Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist said in a statement.

strawberries in plastic container
strawberries in plastic container

This isn't the first time the EPA has come close to banning the pesticide, though. Concerns about chlorpyrifos harming children emerged as early as the late 1980s with environmental groups urging to get the pesticide banned. The Dow Chemical Company (now known as Corteva) and agricultural groups fought against the agency, claiming that banning the chemical would cause a shortage of fruits and vegetables.

At the time, the EPA didn't have the political support from the White House or Congress that it needed to get rid of the pesticide sooner. This year, Biden issued an executive order calling for a reexamination of the Trump administration's reversal of the chlorpyrifos ban. Corteva stopped using the pesticide last year but the EPA continues to allow other companies to make the pesticide.

Eat This, Not That! reached out to the EPA for an inquiry but has yet to hear back.

For more, be sure to read These Are the 12 Dirtiest Foods on Grocery Store Shelves, According to an Expert.