The green chemophobia campaign against chlorpyrifos pesticides

A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals turned away a petition by the environmentalist group Earthjustice yesterday. The group sought to obtain a judicial ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to not ban chlorpyrifos pesticides. If the court had taken the case and ruled against the EPA then the agency’s report dated November 2016 laying out evidence that chlorpyrifos pesticides poses risks to human health would have prevailed and enabled the insecticides to be outlawed.

Environmentalist groups and green-friendly media outlets are not only up-in-arms about the EPA ruling, but are working overtime to convince the public and courts that chlorpyrifos pesticide poses heightened risks of autism and ADHD in humans, especially children. Greens point to a 2014 manuscript published by the group CHARGE. The study’s research pitched as being the first comprehensive review of environmental causes of autism and development delay in humans.

While researchers found positive associations with Autism Spectrum Disorder and residential proximity when they are used, their results when testing them in the same settings with Developmental Disorders were less robust. From the Discussion section of the manuscript also states:

Because pesticide exposure is correlated in space and time, differences in time windows of vulnerability, if they exist, may be difficult to detect, and variation in associations according to time window of exposure may not represent causal variation.

In the end, researchers caution pregnant women near who live near agricultural areas or are somehow at risk of exposure to pesticides to avoid direct contact with them. Scientists who conducted this research are not wrong and circumspection around chemicals that can pose risks for unborn children is a reasonable precaution. But more studies must be done and manuscripts like this should not be used as a pretext to ban pesticide use due to the possibility that pesticides can result in developmental disorders.

The intent of environmentalist groups and green-friendly media outlets is clear if one understands the context of this activity with regard to pesticides. Use widely read publications to publish a story hyping misrepresented research about a pesticide in hopes of it getting reported in the mainstream press. The benefits of using pesticides far outweigh the risks, but it is the risks environmentalists highlight not only to condemn industry but to lay guilt on humans for bending nature so humans can overcome obstacles in order for people to live better lives.

Once done, use the publicity as a means to scare the pubic into supporting outlawing chlorpyrifos pesticides that farmers have used for decades. The consequence of fewer pesticides is less effective means for people to fight off insect attacks on agricultural crop yields. This, in turn, results in not only reduced crop production for farms that will mean less food in circulation to feed humans resulting in death of humans by starvation.