The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, was given the chance to ban chlorpyrifos use on America’s food crops and chose to turn a blind eye to the proven harmful effects insecticides can have on our food sources and ultimately our children.
What is Chlorpyrifos?
The insecticide is a chemical from the same family as sarin gas (yes, the same gas used to kill and injure hundreds recently in Syria) and has been proven by the EPA itself to cause brain and central nervous system damage in infants and children. In even small doses, chlorpyrifos can cause lowered IQs and problems with language, emotion, memory and behavior. The chemical is so potent that personal protective equipment similar to that worn by healthcare workers during the Ebola epidemic must be worn when handling it and administering it on crops. It is also mandated by the EPA that an area sprayed with chlorpyrifos be evacuated for at least 24 hours after treatment. In light of studies showing that chlorpyrifos caused direct harm to developing brains & nervous systems, the EPA banned its use in products used for residential purposes in 2001.
According to the Washington Post, 44,000 farms use millions of pounds of the chemical and the EPA says that it is the most commonly used insecticide on food crops in the United States.
Why Not Enforce A Ban?
It seems the only people not agreeing on the harm caused by chlorpyrifos are those that are lobbying for the pesticide industry or speaking on behalf of Dow Agro Chemical, the main producer of the chemical. So why would Scott Pruitt decide not to ban the chemical? Many experts are speculating that he is following a stated goal of the Trump administration: To reduce regulations for businesses. One of the major talking points of the Trump campaign was reducing regulations, taxes, and other policies that restrict corporations from freely conducting business with minimal government interference.
Regardless of the reasoning, there’s a harsh reality to face. Those that live near farms and industrial areas tend to be lower income. Also, the majority of Americans cannot afford to choose pesticide-free organic fruits and vegetables and are therefore forced to buy broccoli, apples, soybeans and other produce that has been treated with chlorpyrifos. Is protecting the safety of children only a priority for those children living in wealthy areas and born to relatively affluent parents? Sadly, it seems that American businesses matter more lately than the American people.