Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

ban pesticide sign

Earlier this year, semonstrators at the Hawaii Capitol to urge the state Senate to vote in favor of a bill to phase out the widely used agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos, which studies show can harm children's brains. (Photo: Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

'Major Victory for Public Health': Court Orders Trump EPA to Ban Pesticide That Harms Kids' Brains

"Children, farmworkers, rural families, and science are all huge winners today... EPA's job is to protect public health, not industry profits."

Jessica Corbett

In a "major victory for public health," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Thursday ruled the Trump administration illegally blocked a ban on chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to brain development delays in children and nervous systems issues for all people and animals exposed to it—and ordered that it be outlawed within 60 days.

"Allowing the use of this toxic chemical is not only irresponsible, it is a crime."
—Hector Sanchez Barba, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

"Children, farmworkers, rural families, and science are all huge winners today," responded Kristin Schafer, executive director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America. "The court affirmed that EPA's job is to protect public health, not industry profits."

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlawed household use of the chemical in 2000, citing concerns about children's health, it has resisted a ban to stop farmers from spraying chlorpyrifos on crops—which PAN and other pesticide critics have demanded for more than a decade.

"Some things are too sacred to play politics with—and our kids top the list," asserted Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The court has made it clear that children's health must come before powerful polluters."

"Our agricultural fields should be a source of life, not sickness," declared Labor Council for Latin American Advancement executive director Hector Sanchez Barba. "Allowing the use of this toxic chemical is not only irresponsible, it is a crime."

"Some things are too sacred to play politics with—and our kids top the list."
—Erik Olson, Natural Resources Defense Council

"The people who feed us deserve a safe and healthy workplace," added Erik Nicholson, national vice president of United Farm Workers of America. "The EPA has put the women and men who harvest the food we eat every day in harm's way too long."

Ruling 2-1 in favor of the advocacy groups and state attorneys general who filed suit against the EPA, the panel reprimanded the agency for neglecting its responsibility to the public by stalling the agricultural ban.

Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in the opinion (pdf), "The time has come to put a stop to this patent evasion." He also slammed the EPA for its "utter failure" to respond to objections after President Donald Trump's disgraced former agency chief Scott Pruitt thwarted a decade-long effort to outlaw chlorpyrifos, ignoring research from EPA scientists.

It was later revealed that mere weeks before Pruitt delayed the agency's planned ban on chlorpyrifos in March of 2017, he met with the CEO of Dow Chemical, which has been selling the pesticide since the 1960s and has lobbied against restrictions.

"For years corporations like Dow were able to hijack our government to put profit before people."
—Sindy Benavides, League of United Latin American Citizens

"For years corporations like Dow were able to hijack our government to put profit before people. But today the court sided with reason. Children and farmworkers have the right to live and work without risk of poisonings," concluded Sindy Benavides, chief executive officer at the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"Sadly, under this administration," remarked PAN's Shafer, "it takes judges to force our public agencies to stand up to corporate interests and do their jobs."

The victory on Thursday comes a few months after the Hawaii legislature approved the nation's first state-wide ban on chlorpyrifos, a move that was also widely celebrated by public health experts and advocates. The measure was signed into law by Democratic Gov. David Ige in June.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Total Devastation' as Hurricane Ian Tears Through Florida

"Always remember that climate breakdown is only getting started," said one climate scientist. "It will keep getting worse so long as the fossil fuel industry exists. Cause, effect."

Jake Johnson ·


Truss' Tories Plan to Slash Public Spending While Clinging to Chaos-Causing Tax Cuts

"When the IMF tells you, 'hang on guys, this is going to be so bad for inequality it needs a rethink,' you've got a serious problem," one U.K. activist said of the new mini-budget.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Kaine Hail US Senate's Passage of Brazil Election Resolution

"It is important for the people of Brazil to know we're on their side, on the side of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "With passage of this resolution, we are sending that message."

Brett Wilkins ·


Highland Park Victims Sue Gun-Maker, Stores Over Negligence and Deceptive Practices

Lawyers argued that the "shooter was the type of a young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing, and was enabled by his father."

Julia Conley ·


NC Dems Plead for Cash as Beasley Deadlocked With GOP Opponent in Decisive US Senate Race

Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has a one-point lead, but Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is getting more support from the Republican Party.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo