• Should Pesticides Not Be Prohibited If EPA Knows That They Cause Congenital Defects?
  • September 13, 2017
  • Chlorpyrifos is a substance made by Dow Chemical found in pesticides widely used in products eaten by Americans every day. It is applied to more than half of all apple and broccoli crops in the United States. They apply an additional 6 to 10 million pounds in corn, onions, asparagus, strawberries, soybeans, peaches, blueberries and walnuts. Its purpose? To kill the ants and fight against the killer insect of the fruit tree, the Asian psyllid of the citrus.

    The US Environmental Protection Agency knows that exposing pregnant women to the chemical can cause birth defects. And yet ... still legal. Why? It's simple: lobbying chemical companies. But why does Dow continue to produce and market the chemical? And why do farmers use it in crops, endangering their gatherers and peasants, as well as end customers?

    What birth defects can chlorpyrifos cause?

    Autism is one. A 2014 study found that babies exposed to pesticides during pregnancy had a significantly increased risk of autism. In November 2016, the EPA issued a report that said the chemical could cause "delays in the mental development of babies, and attention problems and autism spectrum disorders in early childhood," when the mother is exposed to chlorpyrifos During pregnancy. Previous studies show chlorpyrifos poisoning, 7,000 of which were reported in 1996, causing spasms, tremors, speech disorders, paralysis and even death.

    If chlorpyrifos is dangerous, why is it not prohibited?

    Interestingly, domestic use was supposed to be phased out in 2001. The use of chlorpyrifos for domestic lawns, indoor pest control, direct application to domestic animals, and in public places where children might be exposed, such as parks and schools . However, it is still widely used in crops. Waste in both food and drinking water exceeds the safety standard. The report indicates that children aged 1 and 2 have risk exposures that are 14,000 percent above the level the agency believes is safe only from food. The EPA clearly states that the chemical poses risks to workers who mix, load and apply pesticides. They suspect it is harmful to field workers who are exposed to fruits and vegetables sprayed. They have also been shown to be damaging wildlife. But your answer? Monitor, do more studies and make a new decision in 2022. How many more babies will be born with special needs as a result of being exposed to pesticides during pregnancy until then?

    As for Dow, it is still actively selling the chemical, making products such as pesticides containing it, and going to the point of putting those products as safe. The company refuses to admit any misconduct, even after paying for damages.

    The owners of the farms have the same responsibility. The EPA report is a public study. They could decide the health of their farm workers, fruit pickers and their unborn children is more important than the cheap pesticide. They could at least take the maximum precautions with protective equipment and extreme safety measures for people exposed to the toxic chemical.

    What can you do to protect your children?

    You have a choice on what food you buy. Will you continue to eat farm products that use chlorpyrifos? If you are pregnant, use extreme caution to avoid the fields where the pesticide is applied. If you are working on farms that use pesticides, insist on extreme protection. And help spreading the word. Sharing this article is a good start.