For Immediate Release, November 22, 2021

Contact:

J.W. Glass, Center for Biological Diversity, (813) 833-5301, jwglass@biologicaldiversity.org

Historic Legislation Reintroduced in Congress to Ban Pesticides Dangerous to Children, Farmworkers

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced historic legislation today to protect children and farmworkers by banning dangerous pesticides like paraquat, neonicotinoids and organophosphates.

The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2021 creates new protections from harmful, potentially deadly, pesticide exposure for frontline farmworkers, while requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to reexamine the safety of dozens of dangerous pesticides already banned in the European Union or Canada. The bill also closes loopholes in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act that the pesticide industry has historically exploited to keep dangerous products in use.

“Children and farmworkers should not have to risk suffering serious harm from dangerous pesticides, including many that are banned in other countries,” said J.W. Glass, EPA policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These critical reforms are long overdue. They’ll ensure that people’s health comes before the pesticide industry’s greed.”

The bill would also ban the lethally toxic pesticide paraquat, a chemical known to cause Parkinson’s disease that is already banned in the more than 50 countries. It would also ban organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos and malathion, many of which have been linked to brain development issues in children, cancer or endocrine disruption.

“Exposure to paraquat increases risk for Parkinson’s disease — as well as causes lung damage and other issues. This herbicide must be banned,” said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., executive vice president, research strategy at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “It is irresponsible to continue allowing a chemical on the market that is a known contributor to developing a neurodegenerative disease. In addition to the human toll, Parkinson’s brings a high financial cost to the individual and the government. Banning paraquat will reduce the number of people who develop Parkinson’s and ease the economic burden.”

A study commissioned by The Michael J. Fox Foundation and a consortium of partners found that Parkinson’s disease costs $52 billion each year in the United States. More than $25 billion of that cost is borne by government programs like Medicare and Social Security. By 2037 the cost is expected to grow to nearly $80 billion annually.

“This bill includes a ban on groups of pesticides associated with some of the highest numbers of reported farmworker poisonings,” said Margaret Reeves, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “It also calls for pesticide illness reporting, an essential tool in understanding the real impacts of pesticide use on farmworkers and their families. Though required in very few states, illness reporting has been a vital tool in California for years. It's time all states adopt this practice.”

In addition, the legislation would:

  • Protect farmworkers by requiring employers to report all pesticide-caused injuries to the EPA and establish strict penalties for failing to report, concealing information or retaliating against workers;
  • Require that pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish as well as any language spoken by more than 500 farmworkers using a particular pesticide;
  • Close loopholes in FIFRA’s emergency exemption and conditional-registration provisions, consistently abused by the pesticide industry to obtain annual “emergency” approvals for the same pesticides and “conditional” approvals without providing scientific evidence of safety;
  • Ban the use of neonicotinoids, already phased out in many other nations, which are major contributors to the rapid decline of pollinators.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.