Oregon Sues EPA over Pesticide Chemical in Food

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum asked Friday to join a lawsuit against the EPA –  the action seeks to block use of a pesticide on food crops that harms infants and children.

Chlorpyrifos can harm neurological development.

Filed last month in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by six states attorneys general, the suit challenges the EPA’s decision to continue allowing the pesticide to be used on crops, even though the agency has not made a finding, as required by law, that the pesticide is safe, said Rosenblum in a press release.

KTVZ news reports that studies have shown children born to women exposed to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy had cognitive and motor development delays in their first three years, structural brain changes, and lower IQ scores at age seven. Movement disorders, such as arm tremors, were shown to sometimes appear by age 11.

In November 2015 and again in November 2016, the EPA issued proposed regulations to no longer allow use of chlorpyrifos on food crops. However, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a Trump appointee, issued an order putting any decision off until October 2022. Pruitt has since resigned.

Why Rosenblum is Taking Action

“It is really alarming that the Trump Administration is disregarding the law by allowing a toxic pesticide that is dangerous to young children and infants to be used in our national food stream,” Rosenblum said. “Every one of us eats food that comes from around the country, so until the EPA can show this pesticide is safe, there should be a national ban. Farmworkers, their families and children living nearby are the people to bear the disproportional brunt of this toxin.”

Chlorpyrifos is widely used in the United States on crops. For instance, on apples, strawberries, cherries, bananas, pears, peaches, nectarines, and cherries. Residues of the pesticide has been documented in baby foods and juices, repeatedly.

The pesticide is similar to a type of nerve gas . It inhibits an enzyme that is key for the proper development and functioning of the central nervous system and brain. EPA have twice tried to establish a safe level for the pesticide, failing both times.

The original lawsuit was led by the New York attorney general and joined by the attorneys general of California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont. Hawaii and the District of Columbia asked to join the suit, along with Oregon.

By Andy Thompson