New York, NY
Today, over 80 citizen, agricultural, disability, environmental, health, and labor advocacy groups sent a public letter to Gov. Cuomo urging him to protect the health of children and farmworkers by banning the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos. With hundreds of thousands of members and supporters across New York State, the coalition formed following the Trump administration’s refusal to ban chlorpyrifos this July.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (OP), a class of toxic chemicals that includes sarin nerve gas. First developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare in World War II, OPs were later repurposed as agricultural pesticides. Chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides are used on strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, corn, and more. In fact, chlorpyrifos is one of the most frequently used agricultural pesticides in the United States. It is also used on golf courses. Farmworkers, groundskeepers, neighboring residents and others can be exposed when chlorpyrifos is applied, and consumers ingest it through residues on foods.
Chlorpyrifos is linked to damage to the developing brains of children. Studies show that exposure to chlorpyrifos and other OP pesticides during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weight, delayed mental and psychomotor development, attention and behavior problems including autism spectrum disorder, reduced IQ, and loss of working memory.
While the Trump Administration neglects science and endangers children’s health, states are taking action. Last year Hawaii passed a law banning chlorpyrifos, and this April New York legislators overwhelmingly approved Senate bill S5343, which would ban all uses of chlorpyrifos as of December 1, 2021. Now the power to protect New York from the dangers of chlorpyrifos rests with Gov. Cuomo and his signature. Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland have also considered chlorpyrifos bans and could follow New York’s lead.
Additionally, today, national groups have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for refusing to ban chlorpyrifos federally. The coalition of health, labor, and civil rights organizations, represented by Earthjustice, has taken legal action to continue to fight for a federal ban.
U.S. senators led by Sen. Tom Udall have also expressed their collective concern over the Trump administration’s inaction and have released a letter today urging the EPA to reverse its course and ban chlorpyrifos. Signers include presidential hopefuls: Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others.
Chlorpyrifos and the other OP pesticides were banned from almost all home use nearly two decades ago. In November 2015, under the Obama administration, the EPA proposed banning the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops. In March 2017, shortly after Trump took office, the EPA refused to finalize the proposed ban, falsely claiming the science is “unresolved” despite decades of research and suggesting the agency would study the issue until 2022. That decision came after Dow Chemical donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and after its top executive spoke at a Trump rally in Michigan. The company, now known as Corteva Agriscience, sells chlorpyrifos under the trade name Lorsban.
More info & detailed timeline on chlorpyrifos here.
“Time and time again, Governor Cuomo has stood up to President Trump in order to protect public health and the environment in New York. The EPA’s latest dereliction of duty in refusing to ban chlorpyrifos is one more good example of how we need Governor Cuomo to once again stand up for what’s right for New Yorkers,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “The science is very clear in showing that chlorpyrifos poses an unacceptable risk to the health of our children. This dangerous brain-damaging pesticide must be banned.”
“The only people debating the science on chlorpyrifos are the people who make money off chlorpyrifos,” said Tyler Smith, Staff Scientist at Earthjustice. “We know from decades of scientific research conducted here in New York and elsewhere that even low levels of exposure to this pesticide harm the developing brain. The only question now is: Why haven’t we banned it? The answer is Donald Trump, plain and simple.”
“Governor Cuomo promised to be a strong leader on environmental protections because the Trump Administration is failing people and the planet,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at Friends of the Earth. “We urge Governor Cuomo to uphold his commitment by immediately signing the chlorpyrifos ban bill to protect public health and the environment.”
“New York State cannot allow corrupt and baseless determinations from the Trump administration to delay critical public health policy,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “Governor Cuomo must once again shine a light for the rest of the nation and sign the chlorpyrifos ban into law. Only then will we begin to reverse the cruel legacy of this crippling neurotoxin on public health and ecosystems.”
The following groups urge Gov. Cuomo to sign Senate bill S5343 into law and protect the children and farmworkers of New York from the dangers of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
- Citizens Campaign for the Environment
- Friends of the Earth
- Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
- Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
- American Bird Conservancy
- Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
- Audubon New York
- Beyond Pesticides
- Bronx River – Sound Shore Audubon Society
- Buffalo Audubon Society
- Catskill Mountain Honey
- Catskill Mountainkeeper
- Catskill Provisions Distillery
- Cazenovia Lake Association
- Center for Environmental Health
- Central Westchester Audubon Society
- Child Care Council of Orange Co
- Child Labor Coalition
- Children’s Defense Fund-New York
- Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
- Clean and Healthy New York
- Concerned Citizens of Montauk
- Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society
- Doan Honey Farms
- Environmental Advocates of New York
- Farmworker Association of Florida
- Farmworker Justice
- Food & Water Watch
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- Four Harbors Audubon Society
- Friends of the Bay
- Genesee Valley Audubon Society
- Grassroots Environmental Education
- Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition
- Green America
- Green Inside and Out, Inc.
- Group for the East End
- Healthy Schools Network
- Hell’s Kitchen Democrats
- Human Rights Watch
- Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition
- Interfaith Worker Justice
- International Initiative to End Child Labor
- Migrant Clinicians Network
- Migrant Legal Action Program
- Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights
- National Consumers League
- National Education Association
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- New York Bee Sanctuary Inc.
- No Spray Coalition
- North Shore Audubon Society
- North Shore Land Alliance
- Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance
- Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY)
- Northern Catskills Audubon Society, Inc.
- NYC Audubon
- NYS American Academy of Pediatrics
- Onondaga Audubon
- Operation SPLASH
- Organic Consumers Association
- Partnership for the Public Good
- Peconic Baykeeper
- Pesticide Action Network (PAN)
- Public Citizen
- PUSH Buffalo
- Safina Center
- Save the Sound
- Saw Mill River Audubon
- Seatuck Environmental Association
- Sierra Club Niagara Group
- United Farm Workers Foundation (UFWF)
- United Farm Workers of America
- WE ACT for Environmental Justice
- Western New York Environmental Alliance
- Wild Birds Unlimited of Syosset
- Women’s Voices for the Earth
- Worker Justice Center of New York