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child eats fruit

Despite public health concerns, U.S. farmers are still allowed to use the pesticide chlorpyrifos on crops such as apples, cherries, corn, oranges, and peaches. (Photo: USDA/Flickr/CC)

European Regulators Praised for Declaring There Is 'No Safe Exposure Level' for Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Children

Advocates celebrating the announcement noted that, by contrast, "the Trump administration is kowtowing to chemical agribusiness."

Jessica Corbett

Just two weeks after the Trump administration outraged scientists, environmentalists and public health advocates with its decision to not ban chlorpyrifos, European regulators announced Friday that the pesticide, which is linked to brain damage in children, "does not meet the criteria required by legislation for the renewal of its approval in the European Union."

"The approval period for chlorpyrifos expires in January 2020, and the manufacturers' application for renewal is currently being evaluated under the E.U.'s peer review system for approval of pesticides," the European Food Safety Authority said in a statement Friday. The main manufacturer of the pesticide is the U.S.-based Dow Chemical Company.

The agency's statement explained that "although the peer review is not yet fully completed, the European Commission asked EFSA to provide a statement on the available results of the human health assessment."

"EFSA has identified concerns about possible genotoxic effects as well as neurological effects during development, supported by epidemiological data indicating effects in children," the agency concluded. "This means that no safe exposure level—or toxicological reference value—can be set for the substance."

The announcement out of Europe was celebrated by Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook, who had decried the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's move. At the time, he said, "Siding with pesticide corporations over the health and well-being of kids is the new normal at the EPA."

Cook declared in a new statement Friday, "The E.U. is doing what the science demands: putting public health ahead of the narrow interests of the pesticide industry."

"Tragically for Americans kids and their parents," he added, "the Trump administration is kowtowing to chemical agribusiness and allowing a dangerous pesticide to be sprayed on foods children eat every day."

The Trump EPA's decision last month—which critics said ignored assessments from the agency's own experts—came after a federal court, in April, ordered the administration to stop stalling and issue a decision on the ban requested by advocates within 90 days. The agency ended household use of chlorpyrifos in 2000, but farmers are still allowed to use it on crops such as apples, cherries, corn, oranges, and peaches.

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