A group of Democratic senators are relying on “junk science” to pass a bill banning the popular pesticide chlorpyrifos, according to a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) report released Thursday.
Seven other senators have joined the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, to push the Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017. Udall introduced the bill after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected a petition to ban the pesticide, and a federal appeals court upheld the decision, according to Reuters.
“[EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt]’s decision [to allow the pesticide] is a repudiation of junk science — some funded by the EPA itself — that environmental activists have used to push unwarranted and counterproductive regulations,” CEI Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini says in her report “EPA Denial of Chlorpyrifos Ban Sets Pro-Science Precedent.”
The EPA considered banning use of the pesticide for a decade. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed chlorpyrifos as a neurotoxin, Reuters reports.
The environmental group Pesticide Action Network (PAN) petitioned the EPA in 2016 to outlaw the use of chlorpyrifos as a pesticide. The agency investigated the neurological dangers posed by chlorpyrifos, relying on one study that claimed to have found a link between the pesticide and impaired brain development in children.
The EPA’s Science Advisory Panel (SAP), an independent group of scientists brought together to advice the EPA on the chlorpyrifos issue, questioned the validity of the study. The SAP found that the scientists conducting the study had guessed at data they couldn’t measure and didn’t provide enough information to allow others to replicate their work, Logomasini points out.
Despite the advise of the SAP, the EPA leaned towards granting the petition and banning use of chlorpyrifos based on the flawed study. Pruitt rejected the petition a little over a month after his confirmation, however.
“While the risks alleged about chlorpyrifos safety are speculative, its benefits are well proven. It helps farmers to produce an affordable and healthy food supply,” Logomasini said. “Pruitt’s action in denying the petition to effectively ban chlorpyrifos was clearly a defense of sound science, halting an activist – driven effort to use junk science in order to justify an unwarranted chemical ban.”
Andrea Vacchiano contributed to this report.
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