Five years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that a certain pesticide, chlorpyrifos, is linked to serious health problems including the stunting of brain development in children. But this year, on September 23, the EPA rolled back that conclusion, saying that “the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.”
The pesticide in question, which has a slightly skunky odor (like rotten eggs or garlic) is used on soybeans, almonds, and grapes, because it kills a lot of the insects that might otherwise feast on those products before humans get a chance.
in a much publicized incident in 2011, a New Zealand tourist (and three other people staying in the same hotel) died in Thailand, where chlorpyrifos is used as a bed bug spray. Thai officials denied that exposure to the pesticide was the cause, but New Zealand scientists believe a connection is likely.
In Pill Form:
The reason the EPA gives for changing its mind is that the studies that are said to support the conclusion about the dangers of chlorpyrifos are not transparent: they don’t make their raw data available. The walk-back on chlorpyrifos is a signal that the EPA may soon create a general rule restricting the use of allegedly opaque studies in policy making.