After the Trump administration allowed the chemical to continue to be used on food crops, the Environmental Protection Agency is now banning the use of a pesticide called chlorpyrifos on fruit and vegetable crops. The decision, The Washington Post notes, is designed “to protect the health of both farmworkers dispersing the pesticide and children eating produce treated with it.” The chemical — which, again, the Trump administration allowed to remain on the market for use on fruits and vegetables — has been connected to neurological problems in children.
The Trump administration’s previous move to leave the pesticide available for broader use itself overturned a proposal by the Obama administration to sharply restrict the chemical. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is returning to that previously sought standard. The pesticide can cause headaches and blurred vision if consumed, which puts farm workers at risk, and as the Post further explains: “Some studies of families in apartment buildings found that exposure during pregnancy led to memory loss and other cognitive issues in children.” It’s telling that even a documented possibility of a link between the pesticide and serious health issues among children wasn’t enough to get the Trump administration to impose restrictions.
A farmworker named Claudia Angulo spoke to the Post about her own experiences with the chemical. She connects an exposure to the pesticide that she experienced while pregnant to developmental issues that are now experienced by her son. Chlorpyrifos was even found in tests on her son’s hair. As she put it, the chemical is “affecting a lot of families. We’re all being affected, either with allergies or some with disabilities.” She added that, as a mother, she is “still struggling and won’t stop until this pesticide is not harming kids.” It’s not only telling but also troubling that it took a change in presidential administrations for the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables. The GOP continues to prioritize their ideology over real-world health and safety concerns (as many Republicans’ responses to the pandemic make clear).
The Biden administration — all of which essentially operates, generally speaking, on behalf of the president — has undertaken similar steps to undo dangerous policies from the Trump era. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency, which is currently led by Biden pick Michael Regan, also co-announced not too long ago that authorities would be working on re-establishing stricter protections for waterways in the United States. The Trump administration put a rule in place lessening the range of waterways under federal supervision, and the Biden administration’s aim is to essentially undo this move.