The Biden Administration Just Banned This Widely Used Pesticide

The Biden administration made important strides on August 18, when they officially banned the used of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food crops nationwide. Chlorpyrifos has been used to keep pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches and fire ants away from crops like soybeans, broccoli, and fruit and nut trees since it was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1965, per CNN. As long ago as 2000, the pesticide was banned for household use, but was still permitted for agricultural use. However, its use was restricted in several individual states, including Maryland, California, New York, Hawaii and Oregon, due to health and safety concerns.

It has been linked to serious health problems in children and farmworkers that are regularly exposed to the chemical. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that exposure to the pesticide can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, seizures, and paralysis. It has also been shown to affect the brain and nervous systems of children, leading to neurotoxicity and neurological effects like reduced IQ, memory loss, and increased risk of attention deficit disorder (via People). Teresa Romero, the president of United Farm Workers, expressed relief "that farmworkers and their families will no longer have to worry about the myriad of ways this pesticide could impact their lives" following this ban.

A proposed chlorpyrifos ban was rejected in 2017

In 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruit denied a petition that had been set forth requesting a ban on the chlorpyrifos. The manufacturers of the pesticide denied the possibility of any health risks at exposure levels then set by the EPA. "Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,"  spokesman David Sousa said at the time (via CNN). "This is the right decision for farmers who, in about 100 countries, rely on the effectiveness of chlorpyrifos to protect more than 50 crops."

However, it appears that the Biden administration disagrees. Amidst these ongoing health and safety concerns, the EPA has now revoked all "tolerances" for chlorpyrifos. "Today EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health," EPA Administrator, Michael S. Regan, said of the ban. "Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide. After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first."