Gov. Newsom Bans Use of Brain-Damaging Pesticide In California

EWG: ‘Just because chemical agribusiness wants to use a brain-damaging pesticide doesn’t mean they should’
(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a major move to protect California children, farm workers and their families, the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today it will ban the use of a toxic pesticide shown to cause brain damage at even low levels of exposure.

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Department of Pesticide Regulation is moving to ban the use of chlorpyrifos in California by initiating cancellation of the pesticide, according to a news release issued today.

In contrast to the decision by President Trump and his administration, Newsom’s decision to prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos by agriculture operations in the state demonstrates the kind of leadership where public health takes priority over the narrow interests of chemical agriculture, said EWG President Ken Cook.

“Gov. Newsom has done what the Trump administration has refused to do: protect children, farm workers and millions of others from being exposed to this neurotoxic pesticide,” said Cook. “Just because chemical agriculture wants to use a pesticide on our food that can harm kids’ brains doesn’t mean they should. With the governor’s action, California is once again showing leadership in protecting public health.”

Newsom will also propose $5.7 million in new funding to support the transition to safer, more sustainable alternatives, according to CalEPA and the state Department of Food and Agriculture. 

Two years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under former Administrator Scott Pruitt, sided with the pesticide lobby over the agency’s scientists in an 11th-hour decision to abort a proposal to ban chlorpyrifos from use on food crops.

In August the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt’s decision violated federal law and ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days. But new EPA chief Andrew Wheeler refused to obey the court’s order. In September, the Trump Justice Department filed a petition on behalf of the agency, calling on the court to overturn its earlier ruling and leave chlorpyrifos legal. An order last month by the Ninth Circuit gives Wheeler and the Trump administration until mid-July to make its decision.

Earlier this year, State Sen. Maria Durazo (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation to ban chlorpyrifos. The bill is currently moving through the legislature.

“EWG applauds Gov. Newsom and Sen. Durazo for advancing policies that take a stand on behalf of the health and well-being of California’s children,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s director of government affairs for California. “The health and safety of the people of this state should always come before the demands of the pesticide and chemical industries, and today they did.”



The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.