Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Press Release

New York Becomes Third State To Ban Brain-Damaging Pesticide

WASHINGTON -

Beginning next year, a neurotoxic pesticide that at low doses can trigger brain and behavioral damage in children will be banned from use by agricultural operations in New York State.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to take immediate steps to phase out all aerial applications of chlorpyrifos for all uses, except spraying apple tree trunks, by December 2020. All uses of the pesticide will be banned by 2021.

The state legislature passed a bill banning the crop chemical earlier this year, but Cuomo vetoed the measure. He argued that he did not agree with taking such action “by legislative decree,” preferring instead to rely on the judgment of “chemists, health experts, and other subject matter experts in this field.”

New York is now the third state to take such action. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a complete ban on chlorpyrifos in October, and in 2018 Hawaii was the first state to act, banning all uses of the pesticide.

2015 analysis of federal data by EWG found chlorpyrifos was most heavily used in Columbia, Ulster and Orange counties in upstate New York.

The European Union announced a phaseout of chlorpyrifos on Dec. 6.

The Environmental Protection Agency was poised to implement a nationwide ban on chlorpyrifos early in 2017. But after the 2016 election, Dow launched an aggressive campaign to block that decision.

Dow, the pesticide’s main manufacturer, donated $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration festivities, and its CEO met privately with then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Ignoring his agency’s own scientists, Pruitt aborted the scheduled ban soon after.

Pruitt resigned in disgrace in July 2018 after a scandal-ridden 18-month tenure, but Andrew Wheeler, who took over as agency administrator, fought in federal court to keep chlorpyrifos legal.

EWG President Ken Cook said Cuomo’s move demonstrates the kind of leadership needed from elected officials to put the health and safety of children ahead of the narrow interests of the pesticide industry.

“The children of New York will be safer as a result of the decision to ban this pesticide that can cause irreversible neurological damage,” Cook said. “Chemical agribusiness may hold sway within the Trump EPA over pesticide policy, but not in those states where protecting the health of children and farmworkers is a top priority.”

###

EWG logo

The Environmental Working Group is a community 30 million strong, working to protect our environmental health by changing industry standards.

Progressives, Big Tech Critics Celebrate Confirmation of Lina Khan as FTC Chair

"Her presence on the FTC marks the beginning of the end of an era of lawlessness for powerful corporations that they've enjoyed at the expense of workers, smaller businesses, and democracy."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


'Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance': Calls Grow for Justice Breyer to Retire

"Democrats could lose our razor-thin majority in the Senate at any moment," warns Rep. Mondaire Jones. "It would be irresponsible to leave the future of our democracy up to chance."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Share of Fossil Fuels in Global Energy Mix 'Has Not Moved by an Inch' in a Decade

"We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past 10 years have mostly been empty words," said the executive director of REN21, which released the new report.

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Latest Nina Turner Ad in Ohio Highlights Working-Class Need for Medicare for All

"Wealth should never dictate whether you are able to see a doctor or live a healthy life."

Jenna McGuire, staff writer ·


Biden Admin Urged to 'Prevent a Historic Wave of Evictions' by Extending CDC Moratorium, Speeding Up Aid

"Far too many renters are struggling to access emergency rental assistance programs and are at risk of losing their homes when the moratorium expires," said the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·