Just last month, New York State directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ban the pesticide chemical chlorpyrifos from all use by July 2021. Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic pesticide used on agricultural products. Numerous studies have linked the use of this toxic chemical to many adverse health effects in children, like impaired brain development. These concerns are elevated for pregnant women who live near farms where chlorpyrifos is sprayed.
This past Thursday, Corteva, the world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of 2020. Corteva attributed its decision to the declining sales, however, thousands of environmental and farmworker advocates throughout the nation have worked hard to bring an awareness to government officials and allies of farmworkers concerning the danger of these toxic chemicals.
At the Worker Justice Center of NY, our worker rights advocates conduct outreach to rural communities and educate agricultural workers on their rights to know which chemicals have been used in the fields where they work. Our staff provide workers and their families with the tools to prevent exposure. Our staff also assist workers that choose to file complaints with the DEC, which has oversight of proper labeling, handling and use of pesticides in New York. While we at the WJCNY are excited about this victory, we must recognize there is still much work to lift the voices of farmworkers to stop all production of chlorpyrifos and ban all sales of this known toxic chemical. All our communities deserve to work in a safe environment with dignity and respect.