The toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos has been sprayed on staple food crops in the U.S. for over fifty years. Known to permanently damage the developing brains of children, on Aug. 18, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) issued a final ruling banning all food uses of the pesticide. The ban followed a series of lawsuits pushing the agency to forbid the nerve-agent poison—despite the Trump administration’s refusal to do so in 2017 and 2019—and issue a ban on the pesticide. Finally, last August, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in and ruled the E.P.A. must either prove the safety of chlorpyrifos or prohibit its use on food. Currently prohibited, thirty-two G.O.P. lawmakers from the Senate and House Ag Committees are fighting to reverse the ban on the toxic chemical—one of several used in G.M.O. farming practices promoted by Bill Gates.
What is Chlorpyrifos
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (O.P.) pesticide which kills insects upon contact by affecting the normal function of the nervous system. It was introduced by Dow Chemical in 1965. It is known for its destructive effects on the human nervous system. Like all O.P.s, chlorpyrifos blocks an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that our brains need to control acetylcholine, one of the many neurotransmitters interceding messages between nerve cells. These neurological outcomes pose significantly elevated risks for children as their brains and nervous systems develop.
Great news for birds – and people – to end the week on! The @EPA is upholding their ban of #chlorpyrifos, a toxic #insecticide. The positive impacts this ban will have on birds and public health are significant.
— American Bird Conservancy (@ABCbirds) February 25, 2022
The damaging chemical is used primarily to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests on various food and feed crops. Products come in liquid form and granules, powders, and water-soluble packets and may be spread by either ground or aerial equipment. The product has been used on a wide range of crops, including oranges, apples, strawberries, wheat, corn, citrus, and other foods that families and their children eat daily.
While not allowed on organic crops, the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program found chlorpyrifos residue remained on citrus and melons even after the fruits were washed and peeled. By volume, chlorpyrifos is most used on corn and soybeans, with over a million pounds applied annually to each crop. Non-agricultural uses include golf courses, turf, greenhouses, and utilities.
Warnings and Dangers
Chlorpyrifos is so poisonous that the European Food Safety Authority banned sales of the chemical as of January 2020, discovering that there is no safe exposure level. Likewise, some U.S. states have banned chlorpyrifos from agriculture use, including New York, Maryland, California, and Hawaii, and some filed lawsuits against its use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons, has warned that continued use of chlorpyrifos puts developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women at significant risk. Furthermore, scientists have found that prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos are associated with lower birth weight, reduced I.Q., loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development. The poison is also linked to lung cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, adolescent tremors, and neuroendocrine disruption. A 2012 ScienceDirect study concluded:
“Through the analysis of complex sex-dimorphic behavioral patterns, we show that neurotoxic and endocrine-disrupting activities of C.P.F. [chlorpyrifos] overlap. This widely diffused organophosphorus pesticide might thus be considered as a neuroendocrine disruptor possibly representing a risk factor for sex-biased neurodevelopmental disorders in children.”
Realizing the intrinsic danger to many, including the developing brains of babies and young children, in 2000, the E.P.A. and Dow Chemical (future partner of DuPont) reached an agreement to phase out all residential uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical, which can cause toxicity in pets with overexposure, was banned from use around schools in 2012. The E.P.A. initially indicated the ban on chlorpyrifos would occur in 2017, noting that all food and drinking water exposures were unsafe, especially to children 1-2 years of age.
*Note: In a $130 billion merger, Dow Chemical and Dupont joined together in 2017 to form DowDupont. The merger was the latest in a long line of smaller acquisitions by both companies, leaving fewer options and less choices for farmers. The chemical giant then split into three separate companies in 2019, separating its agriculture and seed business into a standalone company called Corteva Agriscience.
Trump’s E.P.A. Chief Scott Pruitt Delayed E.P.A. Ban of Chlorpyrifos
In what appeared to be a 180-degree turn in the move to ban the toxin, on Mar. 29, 2017, newly appointed E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that his agency would refuse to ban chlorpyrifos despite the clear risk the toxin posed to children, farmers, and drinking water. At the time, Pruitt explained his reason for denying the ban, stating:
“The science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and… further evaluation of the science … is warranted to achieve greater certainty as to whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from current human exposures to chlorpyrifos.”
Meanwhile, a copy of Pruitt’s E.P.A. schedule released following a FOIA request revealed that on Mar. 9, 2017—twenty days before halting the ban—Pruitt held a meeting with Dow Chemical C.E.O. Andrew Liveris (who now co-chairs Build Together, a bi-partisan group supporting Biden’s infrastructure plans) while attending a conference in Houston.
With allegations of over-spending making the headlines, Pruitt resigned in July 2018. In announcing Andrew Wheeler as Pruitt’s replacement, President Trump tweeted at the time, “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency, Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”
Along with the controversy shrouding Pruitt’s refusal to ban chlorpyrifos and his subsequent resignation, on Aug. 19, 2021, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) elaborated on additional developments of concern surrounding the Trump administration’s delay in banning the contaminant, including an alleged $1 million Dow Chemical contribution to Trump’s inaugural activities. USRTK highlighted the apparent close connection between the E.P.A. and Dow Chemical, revealing:
In February 2018, E.P.A. reached a settlement requiring Syngenta [a global producer of chlorpyrifos] to pay a $150,000 fine and train farmers in pesticide use after the company failed to warn workers to avoid fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed and several workers who entered the fields were sickened and required medical care. The Obama E.P.A. had initially proposed a fine nearly nine times larger. [Note: Purchased by ChemChina in 2017 for $43 billion, Syngenta is the world’s top “crop protection maker” and number three seed supplier.]
In February 2020, after pressure from consumer, medical, and scientific groups and in the face of growing calls for bans worldwide, Corteva AgriScience (formerly DowDuPont) said it would phase out production of chlorpyrifos, but the chemical remained legal for other companies to make and sell.
According to an analysis published in July 2020, U.S. regulators relied on falsified data provided by Dow Chemical to allow unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos into American homes for years. The analysis from University of Washington researchers said the inaccurate findings were the result of a chlorpyrifos dosing study done in the early 1970s for Dow.
In September 2020 the E.P.A. issued its third risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, saying “despite several years of study, peer review, and public process, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved,” and it still could be used in food production. The [September 2020] decision came after multiple meetings between the E.P.A. and Corteva.
Bill Gates: "Gene editing holds the potential to save millions of lives and empower millions of people to lift themselves out of poverty. It would be a tragedy to pass up the opportunity." #JustGrowIt https://t.co/rpqcNJwDhF
— Corteva Agriscience™ (@corteva) April 23, 2018
Chlorpyrifos, Environmental Toxins, Bill Gates, & Climate Change
With China listed as the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, the global market of the toxin is expected to grow over the next three years. Asia Pacific and South America are projected to be the key driving force for growth of the product over the next few years due to its extensive agriculture base, while the current demand for chlorpyrifos is decreasing in the U.S. and Israel due to rigid product regulations.
Meanwhile, central to the suggested “emerging crisis” in the global food supply driving the push for pesticide-fueled farming—just like the COVID-19 pandemic—we find Bill Gates. In 2021, the billionaire synthetic meat investor’s crop health company Enko Chem positioned itself to lead the world in preventing yet another pandemic—this time in food crops—by partnering with Syngenta to “design sustainable and safe solutions to combat pests, weeds, and diseases for farmers across the world in a way that reduces development and production time.”
Enko Chem C.E.O. Jacqueline Heard described how the future looks to the venture-backed company, which aligned with Syngenta to leverage its technology to “bring speed in developing new and novel chemistries quickly to the pipeline.” Heard remarked that as the industry undergoes digital transformation, Enko Chem’s partnership with Syngenta—and the World Economic Forum (W.E.F.)—can show how the use of artificial intelligence (A.I.) and digital transformation can lead to more efficiency and sustainability on a global scale.
In October 2020, before partnering with Syngenta, the “Global Health” division of the Gates Foundation awarded a $12.3 million grant to Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., located in Johnston, Iowa. Pioneer is Corteva’s global flagship seed brand and a major producer of genetically modified organisms, including genetically modified crops (including corn and soybeans) with insect and herbicide resistance. Gates’ stated purpose for the substantial monetary gift is to “expand molecular disease testing capacity to economically disadvantaged individuals and communities outside of clinical facilities or settings staffed by health professionals.”
From climate to conflict, good food is in jeopardy every day:
🕊️ when peace is threatened
💦 when rain doesn’t fall
🗳️ when democracy fails
In the face of these challenges, we need to create a world with #GoodFood4All. Act now!
— UN Food Systems Summit 2021 (@FoodSystems) March 9, 2022
Still, as more individuals take notice of the negative health impacts resulting from the introduction of toxic chemicals into the human body and natural environment, hundreds of civil society groups stand in protest over the Gates Foundation’s agricultural strategies and their influence over global food production. These protests were evident at last year’s U.N. World Food Summit. Gates’ model, which he has promoted in Africa for over 15 years, squarely moves farmers toward ever-larger and less-diverse farming operations that depend on pesticides and climate-harming chemical fertilizers.
Undoubtedly, global opposition is growing against the apocalyptic-driven approach to challenges facing humanity being funded and promoted by billionaires like Bill Gates. As reported by UncoverDC, Gates (and the W.E.F.) are prepping humanity for global doom. Yet, opposite of a genetically altered and chemical-based approach towards feeding (and caring for) life worldwide, there are other options. For agriculture, this includes an environmentally-conscious process for farming and raising livestock called regenerative agriculture.
With this approach, farming and grazing practices are shown to reverse climate change. Indeed, the process of rebuilding the organic matter in soil and restoring the currently degraded soil biodiversity results in both carbon drawdown and improvement in the water cycle. Highlighting Gates’ self-serving farming agenda, USRTK, which has been closely “tracking Bill Gates’ plans (including gene editing) to remake our food systems,” pointed out last year:
Gates fails to mention, for example, that hunger is largely due to poverty and inequality, not scarcity. And he seems unaware that the decades-long “green revolution” push for industrial agriculture in India has left a harsh legacy of harm for both the ecosystem and smallholder farmers, who have been protesting in the streets since last year.
Chlorpyrifos Banned But G.O.P. Politicians Seek to Rescind Decision
On Feb. 22, 2022, the E.P.A.’s final rule on chlorpyrifos use on human food and animal feed in the United States went into effect, making its use illegal. The ban gives hope to many concerned about the devastating effects of the poison. However, with motives not entirely transparent, the political battle to stop the use of the toxic pesticide may not be over.
On Nov. 19, 2021, a group of 33 Republican politicians (one is now deceased) sent a letter to E.P.A. Administrator Michael Regan requesting the E.P.A. rescind its August 2021 final rule “revoking food tolerances for chlorpyrifos and proceed with reviewing current uses under its ongoing registration review of this chemistry.” The G.O.P. lawmakers’ letter comes exactly one month after more than 80 agricultural groups sent a formal letter to the E.P.A. with an equivalent message, asking the Agency to “revoke all tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos.” Challenging what they describe as inconsistencies, their Oct. 19, 2021, letter states:
“Pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA) section 408(g) (21 U.S.C. 346a) we are writing to file formal objections regarding this action, as we believe it is inconsistent with federal statute, the Agency’s own record on chlorpyrifos, and sound, science-based and risk-based regulatory practices. Based on these objections, we urge E.P.A. to rescind the final rule revoking tolerances and consider continued agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos under its ongoing, normal-order registration review of chlorpyrifos.”
The Republican lawmakers’ letter didn’t stop with chlorpyrifos. The group (listed here), which asserts our food system generates the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world, also addressed the E.P.A.’s recent biological evaluations (B.E.s) for glyphosate, atrazine, and simazine. The letter criticized the Agency’s finding that these deadly poisons are “likely to adversely affect” one or more species under the Endangered Species Act. Interestingly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was sued on Feb.23, 2022, for “refusing to stop chlorpyrifos, diazinon from killing endangered animals, plants.”
The group declared the (well-documented) findings related to the toxic chemicals are “yet another example of the Agency departing from a science-driven, risk-based approach to conducting this critical work and instead, embracing a “precautionary principle” approach to the Agency’s work.” They continued, noting that equally alarming are the “current industry reports of E.P.A. political officials signaling future harmful actions relating to various herbicides and other crop protection tools.” In closing their letter, the lawmakers remarked:
“Given these concerns, we seek your assurance that, going forward, E.P.A. will not depart from its science-driven, risk-based, congressionally-mandated registration or registration review process of critical crop protection tools at a time when the supply chain is failing, availability of crop protection tools and other inputs is becoming more and more scarce, and record inflation is driving up the cost of production and, in turn, the cost of food for the consumer.”