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Senate bill would ban broad swath of pesticides

The United States would ban the use of two classes of insecticides — organophosphates and neonicotinoids — and the herbicide paraquat under a bill unveiled by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey on Monday.

More than 100 pesticides would be affected, including chlorpyrifos, recently slated by the EPA for termination as an agricultural aid.

“Farmworkers are often exposed to dangerous and toxic pesticides, risking their health as they work to provide our food,” said Booker, a Democrat and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “It is imperative that we address this issue by updating our laws in order to protect farmworkers, frontline communities, and our environment.”

Three Democratic senators, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York state, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were cosponsors of the bill.

The Center for Food Safety said the bill was “the most robust pesticide reform to be proposed since the EPA was created in the Nixon era.”

Organophosphate pesticides have been linked to learning disorders and can cause nausea, dizziness, and confusion. The EPA said in August that it would ban agricultural use of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate used on crops ranging from corn and soybeans to fruit and nut trees.

Neonicotinoids have been labeled as a threat to pollinating insects.

The EPA decided in August to allow paraquat to remain in use in the United States but with additional steps to protect human health. The weedkiller is highly poisonous — “one sip can be fatal,” says the EPA.

Also on Monday, all but one of the Republican members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees asked the EPA to rescind its decision on chlorpyrifos.

To read the text of the legislation, click here.

A summary of the bill is available here.

A fact sheet is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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