U.S. Banned Use of Brain-Harming Pesticide on Food -- But Slowed a Global Ban

"Chlorpyrifos is so harmful that America banned its use on food. But a top EPA official made it clear that the U.S. was not ready to support similar protections for the rest of the world under a treaty that restricts pollutants that travel the globe."

"On his first day in office, President Joe Biden announced that his administration planned to scrutinize a Trump-era decision to allow the continued use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that can damage children’s brains. And with great fanfare, the Environmental Protection Agency went on to ban the use of the chemical on food.

“Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide,” the head of the EPA, Michael Regan, said in his announcement of the decision in August 2021. “EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

Yet when officials from around the world gathered in Rome last fall to consider whether to move forward with a proposed global ban on the pesticide, chlorpyrifos had a surprising defender: a senior official from the EPA.

Karissa Kovner, a senior EPA policy adviser, is a key leader of the U.S. delegation at a United Nations body known as the Stockholm Convention, which governs some of the worst chemicals on the planet. Chlorpyrifos is so harmful that the American government not only banned its use on food but also barred the import of fruits and vegetables grown with it. But Kovner made it clear that the U.S. was not ready to support taking the next step through the convention to provide similar protections for the rest of the world."

Sharon Lerner reports for ProPublica July 6, 2023.

Source: ProPublica, 07/11/2023