Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced a new bill to effectively eliminate a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, from food in school meals. Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide that is sprayed on a wide variety of crops, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, corn, and wheat. Studies have linked chlorpyrifos to developmental disabilities in children. Gillibrand’s legislation, the Safe School Meals for Kids Act, would restrict schools from purchasing and serving food that contains even the lowest detectable amount of chlorpyrifos, which is 0.001 micrograms per kilogram, effectively banning this chemical from the food served in school meals.
“As a mother of two young sons, it’s alarming that the food in school meals could contain even a trace of a chemical that could harm students’ development and ability to learn,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “My legislation would prevent schools from serving food that has even the lowest detectable amount of chlorpyrifos. The food that students eat should be safe and nutritious, and I urge my colleagues to pass this bill to help protect children from this toxic pesticide.”
Several studies have linked early-life exposure to chlorpyrifos to developmental disabilities in children. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first proposed banning the usage of this chemical, and in 2016, it confirmed that there is enough evidence connecting the pesticide to neurodevelopmental harm in children, even at low levels of exposure, to warrant a nationwide ban of the chemical. This decision was reversed under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in 2017, against the advice of experts.
Gillibrand’s bill, the Safe School Meals for Kids Act, would prohibit schools form purchasing food for school meals with a chlorpyrifos residue greater than 0.001 micrograms per kilogram. This threshold is the lowest possible limit of detectable by modern testing systems, effectively eliminating this pesticide from any fruit or vegetable that may be served in school meals. The bill would also require the Secretary of Agriculture to review and issue a report of compliance of the threshold every two years for the following ten years. Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of legislation to ban chlorpyrifos nationwide.