Banning a Brain-Damaging Pesticide
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Based on poison used by Nazi Germany to wreak havoc on one’s nervous system, chlorpyrifos is a pesticide with a number of toxic side effects — unsurprising given its origin.
Dow Chemical has since patented chlorpyrifos and, for half a century, farmers have sprayed the pesticide on our food to kill pests.
Peer-reviewed studies have shown just how harmful chlorpyrifos is. The pesticide is linked to autism, reduced IQ, ADHD, Parkinson’s and neurological problems — especially for pregnant women and children. Further, chlorpyrifos is highly toxic to wildlife, jeopardizing the existence of almost 1,4000 threatened species.
In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency concluded that Dow Chemical’s pesticide chlorpyrifos is unsafe at any detectable level and a ban of the toxic pesticide was announced under President Barack Obama’s administration.
Then came Trump.
After receiving $1 million from the CEO of Dow Chemical, Trump’s EPA announced that it would not ban chlorpyrifos, despite the agency’s own conclusion that the pesticide was unsafe.
As Trump’s administration resides within the pocket of pesticide companies, states are using their power to protect people and planet.
California and Hawaii have since outlawed use of chlorpyrifos and now, thanks to Friends of the Earth and its members, New York has promised to ban chlorpyrifos!
In April 2019, New York legislators overwhelmingly approved Senate bill 5343 — a bill to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos in the state. Friends of the Earth members supported the bill with thousands of calls and emails, and Friends of the Earth organized memos of support from ally organizations and organized a letter from more than 90 New York scientists and academics.
In response to the legislation passing, Friends of the Earth and its members got to work pressuring New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to enact the bill into law and show how states are stepping up while the federal government is failing us.
Friends of the Earth pressured Cuomo with a rally at his office in New York City and more letters of support. We helped place a number of opinion pieces by issue experts urging Cuomo to take action in publications throughout the state and placed an ad targeting Cuomo in the Albany Times Union. To top it all off, Friends of the Earth members in New York state sent 2,441 comments and placed more than 100 calls to Cuomo’s office, telling him to side with public opinion — not Donald Trump. And the pressure paid off.
Cuomo directed his administration to take action to ban chlorpyrifos — and he wouldn’t have done so without the grassroots pressure from activists and Friends of the Earth members. Now we have to hold his administration accountable to their promise.
While the federal government prioritizes donations over decades of science, it’s more important than ever for states like New York to step up to protect public health and environment. And, with the help of our members and activists, we have the power to ban chlorpyrifos in states across the country.