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EDITORIAL: Get dangerous pesticide off our food

EDITORIAL: Get dangerous pesticide off our food

New York and courts need to force EPA to ban chlorpyrifos once and for all
EDITORIAL: Get dangerous pesticide off our food
Photographer: ShutterStock

“Exposure surpassing recommended levels has been linked to neurological effects, persistent developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders. Exposure during pregnancy may harm the mental development of children. Relatively mild poisoning can result in eye watering, increased saliva and sweating, nausea and headache. Intermediate exposure may lead to muscle spasms or weakness, vomiting or diarrhea and impaired vision. Symptoms of severe poisoning include seizures, unconsciousness, paralysis, and suffocation from lung failure.”

We’re talking about a pesticide called chlorpyrifos, brand name Lorsban.

It’s from the same toxic chemical class as sarin, a deadly nerve gas used by the Nazis. Most home uses of it were banned in the United States in 2001.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration proposed banning the chemical’s use on food crops.

But after the manufacturer donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration fund and its top executive spoke at a Trump rally, the proposal was withdrawn so the agency could further study the chemical’s effects — even though its dangers have been widely studied and confirmed by scientists for decades.

This chemical is so dangerous to humans that it has no business being anywhere near anything we eat. Yet the federal government wants to continue to allow its use on our food.

We’ve asked this before when talking about the EPA’s recent laissez-faire attitude toward PCBs and PFOA contamination — Why won’t the Environmental Protection Agency do its job and protect the environment?

As usual, when the feds refuse to protect our health and environment, New York must take matters into its own hands.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to immediately heed the request of more than 80 public health and environmental advocates by signing bill A2477/S5343, which would get the chemical out of use in New York within the next two years. 

The bill, passed by the Legislature in April, would prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos by aerial application starting Jan. 1.

The bill also would prohibit all use except for apple tree trunks by Jan. 1, 2021, and completely eliminate its use in New York by Dec. 1, 2021.

While that takes care of New York crops, though, it doesn’t protect New Yorkers from crops grown in other states and shipped here.

The courts need to support a lawsuit filed against the EPA by six states, including New York, and force the agency to prevent the chemical’s continued use and do its job to protect all Americans from this dangerous pesticide.

Our collective health is at stake here. State and federal officials need to act.

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