Tell the EPA to keep this toxic pesticide out of our food

What's At Stake

Children and farmworker communities will yet again be in harm’s way, as a harmful pesticide is allowed to return to the market. For nearly half of a century, U.S. staple foods such as apples, cherries, peaches, and citrus were sprayed with chlorpyrifos (pronounced: klawr-pir-uh-fos), a dangerous pesticide that poisons farmworkers and in even smaller doses harms the developing brains of children. In 2021, thanks to a court win for Earthjustice and its clients, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all food uses of chlorpyrifos. Unfortunately, that ban didn’t last. After a lawsuit from Gharda, a chemical company, and agri-business groups, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals revoked the ban and ordered EPA to reconsider some food uses. Tell the EPA to protect children from neurodevelopmental harm and put the chlorpyrifos ban back in place.

Based on an extensive body of peer-reviewed science, the EPA and its Scientific Advisory Panel have repeatedly found that chlorpyrifos harms the developing brain at exposures below what EPA has allowed. In the 2021 ruling in Earthjustice’s lawsuit, the 9th Circuit Court directed the EPA to end food uses of chlorpyrifos based on these findings unless it can affirmatively ensure children would be protected. Gharda and the agri-business groups that appealed the 2021 ban and obtained the 8th Circuit Court ruling this year are relying on a 2020 EPA proposal that fails to protect children from learning disabilities and behavioral disorders and cannot be pursued consistent with EPA’s past findings and the 9th Circuit’s 2021 ruling.

This decades-long fight is an indictment of the systems we have in place to protect public health. We’ve known for well over a decade that chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates harm children’s brain development. With the ban overturned and sent back to EPA for a do-over, we must fight this battle again. Our children are too precious to allow them to be exposed to a dangerous pesticide that could subject them to lifelong learning disabilities. It’s time for the EPA to act on the science and ban chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos is 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 — as the EPA did when it banned chlorpyrifos from our food in 2021. We must pressure the EPA to follow the science and reinstate the chlorpyrifos ban. Join us in telling Administrator Regan that the EPA must follow the law and the science and put the chlorpyrifos food ban back in place.

A small toddler stands outside in a blue winter coat, holding a clementine orange in one hand while carefully peeling it with the other.
Children often experience greater exposure to chlorpyrifos because they eat more fruit like oranges, apples, cherries, and peaches for their weight relative to adults. (Annette Dubois / CC BY-NC 2.0)

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