Dem bill would ban controversial pesticide

Dem bill would ban controversial pesticide

A group of Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to ban the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The bill comes in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt, who in March decided against banning chlorpyrifos on food crops, reversing course from the Obama administration.

Research cited by the Obama administration’s proposal found that the pesticide can cause neurological and brain development problems in children and fetuses, among other health problems.

“The science hasn’t changed since the EPA proposed to ban chlorpyrifos in 2015 and 2016, only the politics have. And we aren’t going to let politics get in the way of children’s health,” Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Trump temporarily lifts shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico relief New Mexico Gov: GOP health care bill 'still needs some work' Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (D-N.M.), the bill’s main sponsor, said at a news conference with advocates for farmworkers, who can be exposed to the pesticide at a higher rate than the general public.

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“Administrator Pruitt may choose to put aside science, public health and environmental protection in favor of big chemical profits, but Congress should not,” he continued.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is joining Udall as an initial co-sponsor of the legislation, and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) is introducing a similar bill in the House.

Pruitt’s decision against banning chlorpyrifos was supported by Dow Chemical Co. and agriculture business representatives. They argue that the pesticide is widely used, would be expensive to replace and that the scientific conclusions about it are not strong.

Udall’s bill received strong support from environmentalists.

“This bill tells the chemical industry that our children’s health and safety are not for sale,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

“Families shouldn’t have to worry the fruits and veggies they feed their kids could do them harm. Farmworkers shouldn’t have to fear that they might be exposed to toxic pesticides in the fields or that their children will be poisoned if it drifts into their communities,” she said.

“Our leaders in Washington must stop playing politics with children’s health.”

The EPA is in the midst of a regularly scheduled review to examine whether chlorpyrifos’s use should still be permitted, separate from the process that led to Pruitt’s March decision.

Environmentalists and some Democratic attorneys general have also filed lawsuits to force the EPA to ban it.