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article imageCorteva announces it will stop making brain-harming pesticide

By Karen Graham     Feb 8, 2020 in Science
Corteva, the world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, announced on Thursday that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year.
In 2017, in the early days of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a proposal by its own scientists to ban chlorpyrifos. This decision generated outrage and inspired Hawaii, New York, and California to ban its use, according to Mother Jones.
At the time, Dow Chemical, which spun off Corteva as a standalone seed-pesticide firm in 2018 after a merger with DuPont, was very chummy with President Donald Trump, having donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee. This friendship helped to get the merger approved by the administration.
In July 2019, the EPA, citing a lack of scientific evidence, decided against a ban of the widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos, which critics say is associated with neurological problems in children. This ruling was handed down despite studies over the years that back up claims of the pesticide causing health problems. including research that found pregnant women who lived near farms that sprayed it had increased risks of having a child with autism.
Pesticides are being banned in some countries
Pesticides are being banned in some countries
File photo: Peter Organisciak
Thursday's decision by the chemical's biggest producer, which cited declining sales, marks a watershed moment in the drawn-out fight by environmental, labor, and public health groups to ban its use. And it came on the same day that California’s ban on the chemical took effect.
Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that the Corteva announcement meant “the end of chlorpyrifos is finally in sight," reports The Guardian.
“Ridding the American marketplace of this pesticide is a huge step, but it cannot be allowed to continue to threaten the health of kids in other global markets,” she added.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide. The pesticide was introduced in 1965 by Dow Chemical. These pesticides work as a nerve agent, acting on an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase. The EPA at one time listed organophosphates as being highly acutely toxic to bees, wildlife, and humans.
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