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E.P.A. Chief Rejects Science and Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide

As reported by The New York Times, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected a petition to ban chlorpyrifos. This organophosphate insecticide was banned for use in households in 2000 but is still widely used in agriculture. His move flew in the face of scientific consensus and the EPA’s own scientists who recommended a complete ban of the toxin.

Chlorpyrifos has been in use for over 50 years and has been shown to have a catastrophic health impact. The dangers posed by this insecticide are well-documented. This petition was filed over a decade ago but gained momentum when a Columbia University study showed that it caused severe cognitive issues and other health issues in agriculture workers. Children were shown to be particularly susceptible.

The only winner here is Dow Chemical. They bought themselves time. That equates to money for them but is a catastrophe for everyone else. It is unlikely that this issue will be revisited before 2022. Not surprisingly, the USDA supported the actions of Mr. Pruitt.

The march of progress will render pesticides such as chlorpyrifos obsolete. People are making their preferences known with their pocketbooks and rejecting pesticide-laden produce. This is why GMO seed and pesticide manufacturers work so hard to prevent clear labeling of products and block proper oversight at every turn. 

Chlorpyrifos remains the most commonly applied organophosphate pesticide. The risk of autism is significantly increased by close proximity to pesticide-treated fields. Proximity to fields treated with chlorpyrifos increases the risk of having an autistic child three-fold. Mothers exposed to organophosphates during pregnancy suffer from shorter pregnancy durations and their children face a lifetime of decreased cognitive function. 

Chlorpyrifos is limited to agricultural use, but it poses a threat from farm to table. A shocking study that examined the air inside 52 ordinary homes near the Arizona-Mexico border found indoor air was far more contaminated than previously imagined. Among the whopping 586 chemicals identified were chlorpyrifos, diazinon and DDT. 

The future of the planet depends on the widespread adoption of sustainably grown and nourishing whole foods. There is a reason why big agriculture and their allies spend millions to block regulations and keep consumers in the dark. They are unable to compete on a level field of play in either the scientific arena or the free market.

There are steps you can take to mitigate the damage done to both the environment and your own health. The first step is to avoid produce grown with dangerous pesticides. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine and, unless you're a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure.

Eating organic can lower your overall pesticide burden. That being said, not everyone has access to a wide variety of organic produce, and it can sometimes be costlier than buying conventional. Remember that eating vegetables, even if they're not organic, is better than not eating vegetables at all.

Finally, if you know you have been exposed to pesticides, eat fermented foods like kimchi. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may help your body break down pesticides.

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