NEW YORK, NY — November 21, 2019 — Public health, environmental and consumer organizations today rallied outside Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office to urge him to sign S.5343, which would ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos in the state of New York. The bill would make New York just the third state to ban the neurotoxic pesticide after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists recommended a nationwide ban in 2015.
“New York legislators made it clear that chlorpyrifos is simply too dangerous to our families and our environment to be used in New York,” said Jason Davidson, food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Governor Cuomo can side with the public or side with Pres. Donald Trump. He can protect people from pesticides or protect profits for chemical companies.”
“Chlorpyrifos has an impact on all of our lives,” said Kathleen Curtis, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York and co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership. “This is especially true of farm workers, who are intimately exposed to these deadly chemicals every single day, and who often tragically lack the means to seek the medical help they need once that daily exposure has taken its toll. If the Trump administration won’t move on chlorpyrifos then Governor Cuomo must take responsibility for protecting our families, our workers, and our environment.”
“New York State cannot allow corrupt and baseless determinations from the Trump administration to delay critical public health policies, like the banning of clorpyrifos,” said Roger Downs, conservation director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “Governor Cuomo must fill this void in federal leadership and sign S.5343 into law, ending the sad legacy of this crippling neurotoxin on public health and ecosystems.”
“It is widely known that there is no safe use for this pesticide, yet in 2019, Trump’s EPA reversed a 2015 EPA decision to ban it nation-wide,” said Natalie Polvere, co-chair of the NYCD-16 Indivisible Environment Committee. “We need Governor Cuomo to sign this bill immediately and show that, unlike the Trump administration, protecting the health and safety of New York’s citizens and their environment is a priority for him.”
“Governor Cuomo faces a stark choice: he can either stand with President Trump and the chemical companies or he can protect New York families by signing the ban on chlorpyrifos,” said Alex Beauchamp, northeast region director, Food & Water Action. “At a time when the federal government seems hell-bent on caving to toxic industries, we need real leadership from Governor Cuomo at the state level. He must sign the ban on chlorpyrifos immediately.”
In 2015, after examining all the ways in which chlorpyrifos is used under current law, U.S. EPA concluded that every use results in an unsafe level of exposure—particularly for pregnant women and newborns, but even for pesticide applicators who comply with label directions and wear the maximal personal protective equipment. Prenatal and early childhood exposure to chlorpyrifos is associated with neurodevelopmental problems such as autism spectrum disorder, reduced IQ, ADHD, Parkinson’s-like tremors and other neurological problems. Despite these findings and the conclusions of EPA’s own scientists, the Trump Administration reversed the decision to implement a chlorpyrifos ban.
Chlorpyrifos is also highly toxic to wildlife. A 2017 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services report that Trump’s Department of the Interior tried to bury showed that ongoing chlorpyrifos use is jeopardizing the existence of almost 1,400 threatened species. The report was shelved at the request of David Bernhardt, according to the New York Times. The blocking of the report release was attributed to lobbying by Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, and Bernhardt’s decision came not long after Dow donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. A separate 2017 report from National Marine Fisheries Service found that chlorpyrifos jeopardizes the continued existence of southern resident killer whales and 37 species of salmon, sturgeon and steelhead.
Friends of the Earth espouse protecting the environment so as to create a healthy and just world. They inject truth to power and so expose those who endanger people and the planet. Their campaigns’ work is to hold politicians and corporations accountable, transform the present economic systems, protect forests and oceans, and revolutionize the food and agriculture systems.