The Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to ban agricultural uses of the organophosphate chlorpyrifos. In 2016, EPA had proposed to remove all food tolerances for chlorpyrifos under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act—an action that would have prohibited all use of the pesticide on food crops. Last year, however, Scott Pruitt reversed course and decided not to ban the pesticide, citing scientific uncertainty. A coalition of environmental and farmworkers’ organizations have challenged this reversal in court. The Clinic, representing the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, Migrant Clinicians Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of PSR, submitted an amicus brief in support of this challenge.
The brief explains that a significant body of research from both epidemiological and animal studies has demonstrated that children are vulnerable to long-lasting neurological harm from exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy, even at levels far below the current tolerances permitted by EPA. In particular, the studies show that chlorpyrifos can alter the very structure of the brain, as well as leading to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems. In light of the large and robust research data demonstrating these harms, EPA cannot reasonably cite scientific uncertainty as a basis for failing to take action.
Clinic student Ryan Petty (JD ’19) wrote the brief under the supervision of Deputy Director Shaun Goho.