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Groups seek end to organophosphate pesticides

by Britt E. Erickson
December 4, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 44


A young child holding a piece of strawberry.
Credit: Shutterstock
Organophosphate pesticide residues on food can harm the developing brains of children, advocacy groups say in a November petition to the US EPA.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is facing renewed pressure to protect children and farmworkers by banning all organophosphate pesticides on food crops. In a Nov. 17 petition, a coalition of farmworker, health, and environmental groups asked the EPA to cancel registrations for more than a dozen organophosphate pesticides by Oct. 1, 2022. The groups cite a growing number of studies that report neurodevelopmental harm to children exposed to organophosphate pesticides at levels below those that cause acute neurotoxic effects. Some organophosphate pesticides are also linked to cancer and reproductive damage, the groups claim. The EPA uses acute neurotoxicity as a regulatory endpoint to determine the risks of organophosphate pesticides. The agency is looking at the pesticides as a group as part of a registration review process, which occurs every 15 years. The EPA has a deadline of Oct. 1, 2022, for completing interim decisions on whether organophosphate pesticides can stay on the US market. It banned one of them—chlorpyrifos—on food crops in August. It is currently examining other uses of chlorpyrifos as part of the registration review process.


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