The insecticide chlorpyrifos is dangerous for health

By | May 16, 2020

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a double statement on Friday that concludes that chlorpyrifos and methyl chlorpyrifos pesticides, both widely used in Spain in agriculture, do not meet “with the criteria applicable to protect human health established in European Union legislation ”and recommends that your pending authorization not be renewed by January 2020. Its use is already prohibited in eight EU Member States, Germany, Ireland, Finland or Sweden among them.

Led by Spain, studies by the EFSA ‘ad hoc’ scientific committee on the impact of chlorpyrifos on health, even conservative in its writing, confirm that its consumption through food causes genetic and neurological development problems, especially observable in children and the unborn.

In the conclusions of the EFSA it is read that the experiments carried out in rats show that their intake causes a decrease in the size of the cerebellum. In addition, evidence from other epidemiological tests results in unborn children and children exposed to the insecticide in their future. adverse effects on your neurological system, such as attention deficit, hyperactivity, decreased points in the IQ and loss of memory at work.

“What we say is that both types of chlorpyrifos do not meet the criteria of community legislation,” said an EFSA spokesman.

The Confidential and eight other media in Europe and the United States published last June an investigation into the threats of chlorpyrifos for human health and the environment. Thanks to an official community source who preferred to hide his identity, We anticipate that the European Commission prohibit use of the chlorpyrifos in agriculture in early 2020. The statement signed by EFSA scientists paves the way for the Commission to sanction the ban in its legislation.

“What we say is that both types of chlorpyrifos do not meet the criteria of community legislation,” an EFSA spokesman told reporters Friday. He stressed that the evaluation of the scientific committee “is not finalized, since there are other topics of the study that have yet to be finished, such as the toxicology of chlorpyrifos in animals.”

The conclusions of the community agency are in the same vein as those presented in several scientific research published in the United States, including that of 2016 from Columbia University and its Center for Children’s Environmental Health. This Columbia study determined that the United States prohibited the use of chlorpyrifos in residential gardens and inside buildings. But that measure did not veto its employment in agriculture in the whole country.

Professors at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) published last March an essay linking autism and premature brain damage in California children who have had permanent exposure to chlorpyrifos in their prenatal and infant stages. The study reveals that the risk of damage to the brain increases when the mother has been exposed during pregnancy to fields where this insecticide was applied. This scientific work has had so much weight that it has caused the prohibition of chlorpyrifos in California, the state with the largest agricultural publication in the US. Five other states have already announced or decided similar illegalizations: Hawaii, Oregon, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Experts warn of their danger

The term “chlorpyrifos” sounds like medicine, synthetic drugs or Greek basketball players. In principle, the common one of mortals does not know what the substance that is hidden behind that word is about.

But perhaps the reader is more interested in chlorpyrifos when we tell him that he accompanies him permanently in his daily life. It is present in the apples you eat, in pears, in tangerines; he expels it when he urinates or lives lodged in the umbilical cord that joins moms and their babies inside the amniotic sac. It is a very powerful and effective insecticide to fight pests and that, in addition, is the pesticide most used in agriculture in Spain since it began to be used in the eighties massively in crops.

According to the analysis of the databases of the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, chlorpyrifos is the most recurrent pesticide in the analyzed samples of agricultural products between 2015 and 2017. In addition, among the 4,677 tests, this pesticide appears in just 400 cases, 8.5% of the total. Has a great presence in oranges, tangerines and bananas examined, but used in almost 100 agricultural products in Spain.

It has taken us a long time until we have realized that chlorpyrifos is one of the most despicable chemicals

Fruit baskets and your dinner plate have residues of that pesticide. Your urine expels them, just as 90% of children tested by scientists like Vicent Yusà, head of Public Health Laboratories of the Generalitat Valenciana. Yusà told the journalists a live voice and reads in his articles. Interviewed Yusà for journalistic research, he said: “Most likely, the EU will ban chlorpyrifos in January 2020 because, compared to other insecticides, it is more dangerous for human health and has a greater negative impact on the environment than others. It is very powerful because it not only eliminates agricultural pests but also other animals and affects the environment. We shouldn’t play Russian roulette with the chlorpyrifos anymore

“It has taken us a long time until we have realized that chlorpyrifos is a of the most despicable chemicals”Points Thomas Backhaus, Professor of Toxicology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. “In comparison with glyphosate, the active substance of Monsanto’s Roundup, the chlorpyrifos has flown outside the radar detection. When we apply herbicides such as glyphosate that kill weeds, people can deal with it because we don’t have chlorophyll and does not affect us directly. However, when we talk about insecticides, we have the problem that they affect the development of animals, including humans, ”explains Backhaus.

By his side, Barbara Demeniex , Professor of Biology at the Endocrine Regulations Laboratory of the National Center for Scientific Research in France, told reporters the following: “Scientific evidence clearly shows that prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos has harmful effects on the IQ and the thickness of the cerebral cortex. Chlorpyrifos is toxic to the central nervous system, that is, neurotoxic, and is an endocrine disruptor, especially to thyroid hormones. Thus, this insecticide interferes with normal brain development. ”

Now, the European Food Safety Authority has laid the first stone to ban a pesticide that is called into question by numerous scientists. Media and oenegés pressure has taken a toll. It is the first time that EFSA issues a similar statement before transferring the results of its studies to the European Commission.


* Eiliv Frich Flydal, journalist of the Norwegian newspaper ‘Dagblet’, has collaborated in the elaboration of this article.

A transnational journalistic investigation

The work has been coordinated by Nils Mulvad from Investigative Reporting Denmark. It has been partially funded by a help from the Journalism Fund. The following professionals have collaborated in this research: Stéphane Horel, from ‘Le Monde’, Anuška Delić, from ‘Oštro’, Staffan Dahllöf and Oluf Jørgensen, from Investigative Reporting Denmark, Louise Voller, from ‘Danwatch’, Eiliv Frich Flydal, from ‘Dagblet’, Wojciech Ciesla, from ‘Newsweek’, Pamela G. Dempsey and Brant Houston, from Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Kristof Clerix from ‘Knack’, and Irene by Pablo Molinero and Marcos García Rey, from El Confidencial.