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July 31, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 31


Letters to the editor

Pesticide poetry

In the wake of a federal court’s ruling to uphold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision not to ban chlorpyrifos (C&EN, July 24, page 15), a reader wrote a poem.

         Song of Chlorpyrifos
Let us now sing of chlorpyrifos, downbeat on py, /
a complex organophosphate, accent on phos— /
insecticide, acaricide, miticide.
Decidedly, the musical, topical chlorpyrifos /
is a killer. It so targets mites, ticks, and the like /
it moved Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris /
to urge EPA head Scott Pruitt to reverse /
an Obama Administration ban on its use.
So, soon after a little tête-à-tête /
as an aside at an annual industry conference, /
good friend Scott, for a great many years dead set /
against the agency and now out to spite /
Obama, complied, opening up the floodgate.
But wait, there’s a second verse, stress on perverse, /
in our song on this multi-cide, not just greed, worse— /
the killing of facts, insights, and children. Scientific studies show that chlorpyrifos /
can damage development in children’s brains, /
a consequence these men seem to disdain. /
Liveris, doing his job with unsubtle legerdemain, /
is simply trying to boost his bottom line, but Pruitt, privateer wafted into public service /
on the wave of the wand of Donald the Barbarian, /
in dismissing the science and the scientists /
who made it, dismisses multiple bests /
of adult minds, and in children, so many promises.

Llyn Clague
Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

From the web

Re: Writing the human genome

A reader proposes an idea for genome writing.

Nice review of plans and progress in a challenging and controversial set of projects. It does seem that starting with the mouse genome instead of human would yield many of the same insights and tools, and an easy test-bed for assessing genome-level changes w/o provoking a predictable ethical backlash; but perhaps the latter response was part of these creators’ plan to stimulate an open discussion?

Gordon Robinson



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