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This Chemical Commonly Found on Produce Has Just Been Outlawed for Harming Children

Experts say this pesticide, often used on summer harvests, is linked with serious brain dysfunction.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

If you're careful about what you feed your children, here's important news: For the first time since the 1960s, a federal judge has ordered the ban of a pesticide that's been used on crops like apples, corn, broccoli, and asparagus. According to experts, exposure to this chemical can cause serious damage to children's physical and cognitive development.

In a groundbreaking move on Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its ban on all food-related use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos "to better protect human health, particularly that of children and farmworkers," the EPA said. The ban will go into effect in six months to outlaw what The New York Times calls "one of the most widely used pesticides" that kills insects and worms on many summer food crops. Keep reading for the full details, and for more health news, don't miss The #1 Best Supplement For Your Brain, According to a Doctor.

Chlorpyrifos can hurt children's neurological development.

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While chlorpyrifos might have been a reliable solution against pests, decades' worth of research has demonstrated its damage to child development. As the consumer advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group (EWG), shared in a statement they provided to Eat This, Not That!: "Even in small amounts, exposure to chlorpyrifos during pregnancy and early life harms the developing brain, including reduced IQ, delayed development of motor and sensory functions, and social and behavioral dysfunction."

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Many figures have been fighting to outlaw the pesticide.

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In use since 1965, chlorpyrifos has been a topic of controversy between the government, health authorities, and voices in the agriculture industry. In recent years, the Trump administration supported farmers' use of the chemical—a position that federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jed S. Rakoff called the previous administration's attempt "to evade, through one delaying tactic after another, its plain statutory duties."

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Consumer advocates applaud the ban on what the EWG calls a "dangerous bug killer."

produce aisle
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In a statement provided to Eat This, Not That!, the Environmental Working Group called the decision to outlaw food-related use of chlorpyrifos an "important and courageous decision from the Biden EPA."

They added: "The most important lesson for the public to take away from today's decision is that the government insisted chlorpyrifos in our food was completely safe, right up until the moment when it was banned for being too dangerous . . . Science didn't keep this poisonous insecticide on the market and in our food for decades. Politics and money did."

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Which foods chlorpyrifos is currently used on…

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As Newsweek and other sources report, chlorpyrifos is commonly used on row crops like broccoli and cauliflower, soybeans, nuts, fruits that come from trees, and more.

But after the ban goes into effect, it's reported that chlorpyrifos will still be legal for non-food uses, such as on turf and golf courses.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more