Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9, and 20 days later, he reversed the EPA's decision to ban the spraying of food with a Dow chemical that studies show can interfere with the development of children's brains, The Associated Press reports.
AP received Pruitt's schedule through a Freedom of Information Act request. Pruitt and Liveris were both speaking at an energy industry conference in Houston when the 30-minute private meeting occurred. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told AP that the pair did not discuss chlorpyrifos, the chemical in question, and were just "briefly introduced." Liveris leads a White House manufacturing working group, and Dow Chemical gave $1 million to help underwrite President Trump's inauguration.
EPA scientists have reviewed the chemical, and found that ingesting even the smallest amount can harm the brains of fetuses, infants, and children. The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on Pruitt to take the chemical off the market, saying in a statement: "There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women. The risk to infant and children's health and development is unambiguous."
Chlorpyrifos is similar to a chemical developed during World War II as a weapon, AP says, and traces of it are often found in drinking water. Dow sells about five million pounds of the chemical in the U.S. annually, and in 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning its use on food. In April, AP reported that Dow was urging the Trump administration to "set aside" findings made by federal scientists that organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos are harmful to threatened and endangered species.