“According to recently filed lobbying records, the Dow Chemical Company, Dow AgroSciences’ parent company, contributed $1 million to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee. The president began his first weekday in office announcing cuts in regulations at a meeting attended by Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s chief executive, whom Mr. Trump appointed to head an advisory committee on manufacturing.
A million dollars is a small price to pay in order to protect its sales of some 6 million pounds of the chemical, which is used on more than 50 crops each year. The company won its delaying battle before Pruitt hired Nancy Beck. Before joining the EPA, Nancy Beck was the chief lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council. “
Her mother is highly protective of her daughter, and plans on homeschooling her so that she will not have to comply with the local school district’s vaccination requirements. Mom read the internets and knows that vaccines cause autism. She has done intensive internet research and knows that it isn’t the vaccine itself but the additive thimerosal, which contains mercury, that causes autism in children. So afraid is she of autism that she would rather take her chances with the measles, perhaps not even knowing how dangerous a disease that is.
What this poorly informed mother surely does not know is that she has already put her child at risk for the very condition she fears most by living where she does and by allowing her to play in the backyard of their home, which is near a peach orchard, a cornfield, a soybean farm, or any one of 50 different agricultural products whose farmers use an organophosphate pesticide called chlorpyrifos.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide, a broad class of chemicals that includes sarin. According to the CDC:
Organophosphate insecticides (such as diazinon) are one type of pesticide that works by damaging an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme is critical for controlling nerve signals in the body. The damage to this enzyme kills pests and may cause unwanted side effects in exposed humans. All organophosphates have a common mechanism of toxicity and can cause similar symptoms in humans who have too much exposure.
Corteva Agriscience manufactures chlorpyrifos. Corteva Agriscience used to be the agricultural arm of DowDuPont known as Dow AgroSciences. Formed in 2018, it became a public company in June 2019.
This past spring, the firm’s practice of force-feeding beagles a fungicide in order to determine its toxicity was exposed by the Humane Society of the United States. The three dozen beagles were to be euthanized after serving as test subjects for a year. Public uproar and 100,000 signatures convinced the company to retire the dogs and re-home them instead.
In 2015, the Obama administration announced that it would ban chlorpyrifos after reviewing studies that had shown it caused developmental issues in children. The revised risk assessment review was issued on November 3, 2016, days before the election.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, environmental journalist Sharon Lerner talked to Jim Jones, the outgoing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, for an article in The New York Times.
Mr. Jones described a review process that took more than a dozen government scientists more than five years to complete and involved multiple science advisory panels. After all the questions about chlorpyrifos were addressed, “it was very clear to me that we could not meet the required statutory finding of a ‘reasonable certainty of no harm,’ ” Mr. Jones said.
An E.P.A. report that came out right after the election, which was the product of this careful vetting, reflected Mr. Jones’s concern. The revised risk assessment relied on evidence of “neurodevelopmental effects in fetuses and children resulting from chlorpyrifos exposure” and drew on studies showing increased risk of delays in mental development, intelligence loss, attention problems and autism spectrum disorder in children who were exposed to organophosphates, the class of pesticides to which chlorpyrifos belongs. Based on this evidence and feedback from the scientific community, the E.P.A. calculated a new safety threshold for chlorpyrifos and found that in some cases children, who are most vulnerable to its effects, may already be exposed to much more than that amount.
As Lerner makes clear in her article, chlorpyrifos was widely used for years before the proposed ban, and does not immediately sicken or kill most who are exposed to it. Obviously, if it did we would have no agricultural workers left. But the harm that it causes to the most vulnerable, like fetuses and children, is profound and long-lasting. As Earthjustice explains:Residential uses of chlorpyrifos ended in 2000 after EPA found unacceptable risks to kids.Children often experience greater exposure to chlorpyrifos and other pesticides because they frequently put their hands in their mouths and, relative to adults, they eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water and juice for their weight.
Leading the fight against the proposed Obama administration ban was Dow AgroSciences, which is now Corteva Agriscience. It had developed a lucrative market for the pesticide and was willing to fight to retain that market. Plus, as Lerner points out, Trump was elected days after the EPA report was issued. If Dow could delay the process long enough, the Trump administration would likely reverse the ban. Sure enough, shortly after Trump took office the EPA, led by Scott Pruitt, reversed the ban before it could take effect. That led to lawsuits against the EPA, and the final decision that was announced last month.
According to recently filed lobbying records, the Dow Chemical Company, Dow AgroSciences’ parent company, contributed $1 million to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee. The president began his first weekday in office announcing cuts in regulations at a meeting attended by Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s chief executive, whom Mr. Trump appointed to head an advisory committee on manufacturing.
A million dollars is a small price to pay in order to protect its sales of some 6 million pounds of the chemical, which is used on more than 50 crops each year. The company won its delaying battle before Pruitt hired Nancy Beck. Before joining the EPA, Nancy Beck was the chief lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council.
Pruitt hired Beck in 2017 as deputy head of the agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, using an arcane loophole allowing her to evade the ethics pledge meant to prevent White House officials from working on issues they had lobbied on in the previous two-year period.
Since that time, Beck has been instrumental in backtracking EPA positions on the adverse health impacts of more than a dozen hazardous chemicals while effectively chipping away at key environmental laws, exposing millions of Americans to more cancer-causing chemicals in our food, water, and products.
Although she was not directly involved in the initial decision, she has since made her presence known, and will head up the review required by the 2016 revision of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act.
The new bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to begin conducting tests on those 64,000 chemicals, but at a fairly slow pace: the agency would examine about 20 chemicals at a time, with a deadline of seven years per chemical. It would also allow the agency’s regulations to pre-empt stronger state-level rules.
That last sentence is rather disturbing, since states like California are considering their own bans on chlorpyrifos. The New York Times tried to get a comment from the EPA and Dr. Beck with a “detailed list of questions,” and received this response:
“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”
Before joining the E.P.A., Ms. Bowman was a spokeswoman for the American Chemistry Council.
There is something surreal about life under the current administration. We aren’t just told to believe that the sky is purple: We are told that we are not entitled to an explanation as to why the sky is now purple—and we are told this by the very people who have the most profit to gain from a purple sky.
And enough Americans appear to be able to accept the reality of a purple sky, or autism-causing vaccines, that the government can now tell us that bad is good and that a chemical that could cause autism is safe to spray on our crops, just as long as one of its political donors can make a healthy profit from its use.
The toddler in Iowa, Georgia, or even Ohio doesn’t know any of this. Her mother was likely exposed to airborne pesticides while she was pregnant, since she lives in the middle of a rural farming community. A look at the map that the United State Geological Survey has developed shows that much of the usage of this pesticide occurs in Trump country, or what Sarah Palin called the “real” America. But I am willing to bet that Fox News never covered this story, even though it impacts so many in its audience.
The damage that Trump is doing to our nation and its people is multi-layered and insidious. It is not just his repeated violations of the Constitution, or his obstruction of justice that are criminal. It is in the thousand cuts of the regulatory agencies that are run by the lobbyists of the industries they are supposed to be overseeing. These are stories that get a mere mention on the evening news because a tweet is grabbing the media attention, but they often have far greater ramifications on the health and well-being of our children.
Trump is hurting a lot more children than those that are caged on the border. We just don’t have the dramatic photographs, and they are not concentrated in one place that provides a handy target for our celebrity-obsessed media.
This is just one chemical that causes harm to living creatures. There are plenty more, including some that kill bees, that the industry-run EPA is rapidly approving while we are focused on the Mueller report, testimony, and reaction, along with Trump’s latest unhinged tweets.