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Ban this dangerous chemical from our food

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What’s At Stake

Update, 7/28/21: This alert was originally published when a federal court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos. But as we’ve seen in the past, the pesticide industry is cozying up to EPA staff and aggressively lobbying them to adopt a Trump proposal that would not ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos. We need your help again to tell the EPA to ignore the lobbyists and follow through on the court order to ban chlorpyrifos.  

This would be a catastrophic mistake and an utter betrayal of the public’s trust in the EPA. The amount of delay on this common-sense ban is already unacceptable, as the EPA and its scientific advisors have found repeatedly over the past 10 years that chlorpyrifos damages children’s neurological development at exposures far lower than what the EPA is currently allowing. Independent scientific studies show that the toxin is linked to motor delays, reduced IQ, harms to working memory, and autism — and Earthjustice has been suing the government for a decade to get it banned.

We need your help again. Tell the EPA to ignore the pesticide lobbyists that are trying to convince it to ignore the science (and a court order) and follow through with a ban on all food uses of chlorpyrifos.

For half a century, U.S. staple foods such as corn, wheat, apples and citrus have been sprayed with chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide that can damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ and attention deficit disorders. Now, after more than a decade of advocacy and a series of Earthjustice lawsuits, a federal court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to stop evading the law and ban all food uses of the neurotoxic pesticide, or prove that it is safe (something the EPA cannot do given the science).  Join us in telling the EPA to finish the job and ban chlorpyrifos now.

This might sound familiar — this same court ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos before. But the Trump administration never let the rule of law or public health get in the way of polluter profits, so it refused to take action and continued to allow chlorpyrifos to be sprayed on our food.  

Now, with a new administration and a new court ruling, we have a chance to get the job done for good. Tell EPA Administrator Michael Regan to follow through to protect children and farmworkers and ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos now. 

The fight doesn’t end with chlorpyrifos — it’s just one member of the organophosphate class of pesticides that were first developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare and are sprayed on our fruits and vegetables. The science is extremely clear on organophosphates: choosing to allow their use is choosing to harm children’s brains and poison the farmworkers who harvest the food everyone eats. 

This decades-long fight is an indictment of the systems we have in place to protect public health. We’ve known chlorpyrifos and organophosphates are deeply harmful for years, but the federal government has been unable or unwilling to act, in large part because of the chemical lobby’s influence. We’ve let an industry that’s more than willing to poison farmworkers and agricultural communities set our public health priorities for too long — which is why it’s time for the Biden administration to be bold and fix this with a ban on organophosphates. 

Chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates are in our bodies, water, air, and food, and it’s not going to get any better without decisive action from the federal government. Our government has a responsibility to protect us — but they’ve let us down for far too long. We must pressure the EPA to follow through with a ban on chlorpyrifos, and then begin the process to do the same for all organophosphates. Join us in telling Administrator Regan that the EPA’s time is now up to follow the law and ban chlorpyrifos now. 

A father and son in a cotton field in El Campo, Texas. Chlorpyrifos is widely used on cotton. The EPA has acknowledge its legal obligation to protect children from pesticide drift.
Lance Cheung / USDA

A father and son in a cotton field in El Campo, Texas. Chlorpyrifos is widely used on cotton. The EPA has acknowledge its legal obligation to protect children from pesticide drift.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.