Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced a bill that would ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide some research says can be linked to learning disabilities as well as severe health problems. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a petition urging a ban all forms of chlorpyrifos. The decision by EPA head Scott Pruitt was harshly criticized by several environmental groups, which said the agency's own research found considerable risk to public health. Shortly after Pruitt's ruling, Udall sent a letter to the EPA administrator demanding answers for the reversal.

Some scientists, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), say that fears over chlorpyrifos are overstated and are safe at low levels of exposure. And Dow Agrosciences, a leading manufacturer of chlorpyrifos-based products, insists that the science has rigorously proven that the chemical is not dangerous when farmers apply and manage the chemical safely. The chemical has been banned from residential use since 2001, but is still widely used in agriculture. In California chlorpyrifos is reportedly widely used for four crops: alfalfa, almonds, citrus and cotton.

"This is the right decision for farmers who, in about 100 countries, rely on the effectiveness of chlorpyrifos to protect more than 50 crops," said Dow in a public statement shortly after Pruitt announced the chemical would not be banned.

But NGOs including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) insist that with over 3,000 studies concluding that chlorpyrifos exposure at any level is unsafe,  evidence that the chemical has appeared in some sources of drinking water behooves the EPA to ban the product. NRDC has quickly lined itself up in support of Udall's bill.

“This bill tells the chemical industry that our children’s health and safety are not for sale. Families shouldn’t have to worry the fruits and veggies they feed their kids could do them harm," said NRDC's president, Rhea Suh, in an emailed statement to TriplePundit. "Farmworkers shouldn’t have to fear that they might be exposed to toxic pesticides in the fields or that their children or will be poisoned if it drifts into in their communities. Our leaders in Washington must stop playing politics with children’s health.”

Image credit: Roger Smith/Flickr

Published earlier today on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.