First introduced by the Dow Chemical Company in 1965, chlorpyrifos has been used to combat mosquitoes, cockroaches and other insects. It’s a chemical that pretty much all of us have come into contact with, according to National Geographic.
And no, that isn’t good news. Unless, of course, you’re a politician who’s benefitted financially from supporting this pesticide that is related to sarin (mustard gas) and has been shown to cause brain damage in children. Like sarin, chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate that attacks the body’s chemical pathways, breaking down nerves ability to communicate. We can be exposed to it through the food we eat, through our skin, or simply by inhaling it.
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Even worse, it’s widely used on crops ranging from corn and soybeans to grapes and tree nuts, Mother Jones reports.
In March 2017, not long after Trump took office, a court order forced now-former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to decide whether to honor his own agency’s plan to ban the pesticide. Unsurprisingly, Pruitt decided to keep the pesticide on the market.
Now Congress is becoming involved, and as you might suspect, money is being tossed around. A House bill (H.R. 230) that would ban the chemical was introduced in January and it’s attracted 107 sponsors. But according to a filing from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), of the 330 House members who chose to not sponsor the bill to ban the deadly chemical, 118 hauled in $379,651 from Dow (now DowDupont) Dupont since 2017, according to data provided by Maplight below.
And DowDupont execs are in close cahoots with the Trump administration and have been even before Pruitt rescued chlorpyrifos. In the days following Trump’s election, the company turned to the public, pleading on the pesticide’s behalf.
The next step occurred when Trump named Dow’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, to head the American Manufacturing Council (which is now defunct); not long after that, the company donated $1 million to the president’s inaugural committee.
But then things became a bit embarrassing after Dow donated $100,000 to a notorious dark money pro-Trump organization called America First Policies (AMF), Maplight reports. But after the racist ranting of AMF’s founder were revealed, Dow backed out of the arrangement quickly.
Apparently, Dow might not mind making people sick, but it doesn’t want to appear racist while doing so.
But the embarrassing imbroglio didn’t prevent Trump’s antitrust team from approving Dow’s mega-merger with Dupont in 2018. Thus, DowDupont was born. That, in turn, encouraged Trump to appoint three-former Dow executives to key posts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
So, what about the politicos who benefitted from Dow’s largesse in keeping this noxious pesticide where it can make our kids the sickest?
Rep. John Moolenaar, it turns out, is a former Dow chemist. Please note that he received $50,050 from his former employer. That’s a bit convenient, don’t you think?
But please keep in mind that these sort of shenanigans have been going on long before Trump was on the scene. Monsanto has been playing the politics game since the early 1980s at the very least, through the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan leading all the way up to that of Barack Obama (his administration, however, worked assiduously in banning chlorpyrifos.) And let’s not forget that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a former Monsanto Corporate Lawyer. Even Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense during George W. Bush’s administration was the CEO of Searle, a Monsanto subsidiary.
Heck, if you read the article linked above, it reads like a virtual who’s who of politics. Really, the situation is the culmination of corporate greed at it’s very worst.
So we can be grateful to states like California, Hawaii, and New York, which have all banned chlorpyrifos. But rest assured that Republicans ruling the House and the White House, H.R. 230 is quite likely to fail.
Isn’t that a comforting thought?
There is one tiny glimmer of hope. According to Politico, a U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to either ban the pesticide or provide reasons why it should continue to be used. The EPA has been given 90 days to comply.
So will chlorpyrifos be banned? With the current Washington, D.C. inmates running the White House asylum, don’t hold your breath.
Featured image courtesy of the video above