In a move that is both a victory for environmental justice and a snub to the current president, the California Senate officially banned a pesticide that has been proven to cause brain damage in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously attempted to ban the toxic chemical, chlorpyrifos, nationwide, however, the Trump administration rejected the overwhelming scientific evidence of its health impact on pregnant women and children living near major farms. This week, California representatives voted to overrule the president in their own state.
Public health activists believe the Trump administration is protecting the business interests of Dow Dupont, a chlorpyrifos manufacturer that previously donated to the president’s campaign.
According to studies, the pesticide has been linked to impaired brain and neurological development among children. It has also been linked to increased risk of autism, memory problems and lower IQs among the children of women who were exposed to the chemical while pregnant.
“Countless people have suffered as a result of this chemical,” the California EPA secretary, Jared Blumenfeld, said in an interview on Wednesday. “A lot of people live and work and go to school right next to fields that are being sprayed with chlorpyrifos … It’s an issue of environmental health and justice.”
Low income and immigrant communities of California’s central valley are largely impacted due to their proximity to major industrial farms where the chemical is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos pesticides are often used on almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts among other products.
Research shows that the chemical is linked to these health concerns at even lower doses than originally thought.
According to Dow Dupont’s spokesman, the manufacturing company is planning to challenge the ban, saying it unfairly hurts farmers who need a way to effectively control pests. The ban will “remove an important tool for farmers and undermines the highly effective system for regulating pesticides,” the spokesman said in a statement.
However, California’s governor has proposed a $5.7 million plan to help farmers transition to more sustainable pest control options.
“The science is definitive,” said Blumenfeld . “This job really should have been done by the U.S. EPA.”
Via The Guardian
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