Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama published a risk analysis of a toxic pesticide known as chlorpyrifos. This chemical, sold under numerous brand names that include “Cobalt,” “Hatchet,” and “Warhawk,” is known to wreak havoc on human brain development, and was banned for most home garden uses in 2001. Before the world turned upside down this year, the EPA had been considering a total ban on the product.
However, on March 29, the EPA suddenly reversed its position, despite clear scientific evidence of the chemical’s toxicity. In denying an administrative petition to institute a total ban on chlorpyrifos, corporate whore Scott Pruitt said, “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.”
Just over a month later, fifty farmworkers near Bakersfield, California began exhibiting symptoms of poisoning that include nausea and vomiting, diahrrea, and fainting. The symptoms have been attributed to the use of chlorpyrifos. According to a number of studies, chlorpyrifos – an “endocrine disruptor” – can seriously retard the mental development of children and increase the likelihood of autism, even at low levels of exposure. Endocrine disruptors, which interfere with hormone function, can also cause cancer and various birth defects.
While public health and environmental advocacy groups were understandably and predictably outraged at the EPA’s actions, Dow AgroSciences – a division of the same company responsible for the deaths of as many as 16,000 human beings in Bhopal, India – has been popping the champagne corks.
Not coincidentally, Dow Chemical handed Trump a cool $1 million for his inauguration ceremony. Prior to that, the company’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, attended Trump’s post-”election” rally, announcing Dow’s intention to create 100 new jobs at its Midland, Michigan plant and bring another 100 jobs back from overseas. Not long after that, Trump named Liveris head of the American Manufacturing Council.
So if you believe Liveris and Dow’s corporate propaganda, the Trump Administration’s approval of a chemical pesticide proven to cause serious illness has all been in the name of providing jobs and finding “ways to bring industry back to America.”
Of course, Trump campaigned on creating more jobs for U.S. workers (inasmuch as any president actually has the direct power to do that), and claimed last month that he created 600,000 new jobs since being given office. The truth of the matter is that economic growth in the U.S. is at its slowest rate in three years. Furthermore, at the heart of Trump’s so-called “job creation” agenda is the rollback of any and all regulations that protect human and environmental health – which, assuming he can live up to all those big promises (and we know what those are worth), are sure to cancel out any economic gains made by American workers. At best, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Just ask those farmworkers near Bakersfield.