PIRG delivers more than 10,000 signatures calling on EPA to reject a toxic pesticide

Unnecessary, toxic agricultural chemicals shouldn’t be used on food crops

What’s the problem with chlormequat chloride?

Research shows that the pesticide chlormequat disrupts fetal growth and harms the reproductive system — but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fielding a proposal that farmers be allowed to use it on food crops. We called on our members to join us in telling the EPA to not allow this chemical on food unless and until it’s proven safe.

Chlormequat isn’t being proposed for use because we can’t farm without it. It doesn’t save crops from death or disease. All this chemical is used for is to make the stems of small grains a little bit stronger.

Why we took action

Slightly stronger stems aren’t worth risking our health. Just think about everything in your pantry that’s made of grain. From the oatmeal or cereal you eat for breakfast, to the bread in your sandwich at lunchtime, to the pasta you might cook for dinner: All of this could soon contain traces of chlormequat unless the EPA prioritizes health.

This isn’t the first time a toxic pesticide has threatened kids’ health. A chemical called chlorpyrifos was linked to brain damage in children — but it was still used on more than 50 crops, including fruits and vegetables that we buy every day. So we rallied our supporters to send over 27,000 messages to the EPA — and it worked. The EPA listened, and banned most uses of the brain-damaging pesticide in 2021.

Here is the comment we submitted with our members’ support:

“Research shows that chlormequat chloride disrupts fetal growth and harms the reproductive system. We shouldn’t allow its use on food crops unless and until it’s proven completely safe — especially since we know we can farm without it. Chlormequat’s approval won’t save crops from death or disease. All this chemical is used for is to make the stems of small grains a little bit stronger, so fewer of them bend or break. A slightly bigger harvest isn’t worth the risk to our health. I strongly urge you to not approve chlormequat chloride for use on food crops unless and until it’s proven completely safe.”

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