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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on chlorpyrifos insecticides is being called a "Big Victory" by public health and environmental advocates.

Archived HHRA News Posts
  • HHRA’s 2023 Annual Report

    Last year was a year of progress and transition for the HHRA and the Heartland Study. Read about it here!  

  • Supporting HHRA and the Heartland Study Through Donor-Advised Funds

    An increasingly popular way to manage charitable giving is by donating cash, securities, or other assets into a donor-advised fund (DAF), from which you will receive an immediate tax deduction. From this, donors can recommend grants to IRS-qualified nonprofit organizations.  DAFs are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to “grow” resources earmarked for future charitable giving.  The HHRA is an IRS-qualified organization, and we encourage you to use your DAF, if you have one, to support our mission. You can find three simple steps to supporting our research via your DAF here.  Simple and convenient, your DAF can have genuine effects on the health of mothers, babies, and future generations.  Thank you!

  • HHRA-funded Dicamba study published in “agrochemicals”

    Dicamba and 2,4-D in the Urine of Pregnant Women in the Midwest: Comparison of Two Cohorts (2010–2012 vs. 2020–2022) Abstract Currently, there are no known human biomonitoring studies that concurrently examine biomarkers of dicamba and 2,4-D. We sought to compare biomarkers of exposure to herbicides in pregnant women residing in the US Midwest before and after the adoption of dicamba-tolerant soybean technology using urine specimens obtained in 2010–2012 from the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be (N = 61) and in 2020–2022 from the Heartland Study (N = 91). Specific gravity-standardized concentration levels for each analyte were compared between the cohorts, assuming data are lognormal and specifying values below the LOD as left-censored. The proportion of pregnant individuals with dicamba detected above the LOD significantly increased from 28% (95% CI: 16%, 40%) in 2010–2012 to 70% (95% CI: 60%, 79%) in 2020–2022, and dicamba concentrations also significantly increased from 0.066 μg/L (95% CI: 0.042, 0.104) to 0.271 μg/L (95% CI: 0.205, 0.358). All pregnant individuals from both cohorts had 2,4-D detected. Though 2,4-D concentration levels increased, the difference was not significant (p-value = 0.226). Reliance on herbicides has drastically increased in the last ten years in the United States, and the results obtained in this study highlight the need to track exposure and impacts on adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Keywords: pesticide; exposure; 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid; human biomonitoring You can read the paper here.

  • Crop-killing Weeds Advance Across US as Herbicides Lose Effectiveness

    Farmers say they are losing their battle with weeds at a time when growers are grappling with inflation and extreme weather linked to climate change. Crop-killing weeds such as kochia are advancing across the U.S. northern plains and Midwest, in the latest sign that weeds are developing resistance to chemicals faster than companies including Bayer and Corteva  can develop new ones to fight them. In many cases weeds are developing resistance against multiple herbicides, scientists said. Read the Reuters report here.  Read an earlier post by the HHRA board chair on the problem of resistant weeds here.

  • Heartland Health Research Alliance logo Help Lead this Worthy Cause: The HHRA is Recruiting Board Members

    We are publicly recruiting for board positions to ensure that we move beyond our immediate networks and honor our ongoing commitment to creating a board that is diverse in its composition, inclusive in its culture, and equity-focused in its approach to how it views its mission, its work, and the communities it serves. Our board members are the fiduciaries who steer the HHRA toward a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the HHRA has adequate resources to advance its mission. The Heartland Health Research Alliance (HHRA) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2020 and dedicated to creating a new future in which cultivating health is the priority of farming. Our mission is to help inform the decisions shaping agriculture by advancing research on the health effects of food and farming. The HHRA seeks to fill vacancies on its board with qualified volunteers who, in addition to the standard roles and responsibilities (see below) of a board member, will be active advocates and ambassadors for the organization. Preferred qualifications 1. Professional experience in public health, medical research, epidemiology, toxicology, or organic farming, 2. A network or experience, or both, that may facilitate grant seeking and fundraising. 3. Commitment to the scientific method and the integrity of research. Essential information 1. The board of the HHRA is a volunteer board. 2. Each term is for three years, to which members can be re-elected once. 3. The board meets four times a year via the Internet. Expectations The HHRA expects each board member to honor the HHRA values and mission, act in the best interest of the HHRA, prepare for the board meetings by reading the agenda and reports, participate in the board meetings, and identify personal and professional connections for HHRA fundraising, grant-seeking, and policy influence. Process 1. To apply to volunteer, please send your CV and a one-page cover letter providing your name, contact information, and a description of either which of the preferred qualifications (above) you will bring to the HHRA or how your unique qualifications can help the HHRA.  Send these materials to Russell K. King, HHRA executive director, at rking@hh-ra.org . 2. Qualified applications will be reviewed by the current board, which will vote on whether to seat a volunteer as a member. (The next board meeting is in February 2024.) 3. The recruiting process will remain open until all seats are filled. Standard board member duties 1) Board members should advance the mission of the organization Overall, spreading awareness for your mission will promote growth and empower your team to flourish in its work. 2) Board members should prepare for and attend board meetings Review the agenda in advance. Everyone should understand all matters on the agenda heading into the meeting. Participation in discussions is a big part of why you choose someone for a role on the board. Fulfilling these duties is part of acting in good faith for any board member. 3) Board members hire, set compensation for, support, and collaborate with the executive director Hiring and supporting the executive director is one of the most important board member responsibilities.  The executive director is the professional hired to as bring nonprofit leadership and operational expertise to the HRRA’s daily operations and to advice and educate the board on matters relating to nonprofit governance and operations, so this board role is crucial to the organization’s health. 4) Board members are responsible for recruiting new members Drawing on your professional and personal networks, seek new members who have needed skills and qualities that are missing from the current board. 5) Every board member must fulfill three specific core legal responsibilities. Duty of Care Attending meetings and actively participating. Communicating with the executive director and other board members. Following through on assignments.. Supporting programs. Duty of Loyalty Support HHRA’s mission. Be a loyal ambassador for HHRA’s cause. All activities and decisions should be in the best interest of the organization, not in the best interest of the individual board member. Support the HHRA executive director. Duty of Obedience Adhere to HHRA’s bylaws, policies, and board decisions.

The Lowdown on the Landmark Chlorpyrifos Ruling

May 5th, 2021
May 5th, 2021
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on chlorpyrifos insecticides is being called a "Big Victory" by public health and environmental advocates.

The organophosphate (OP) insecticide chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) has been one of the most heavily used soil insecticides in the Heartland for decades. Farmers use it to prevent worm larvae from attacking roots, and it remains a common residue in many fruits and vegetables, and especially in imported produce. Scientists and the EPA have been working to get it out of the food supply for over two decades because of the insecticide’s ability to disrupt fetal neurodevelopment when pregnant women are exposed.

The endgame for chlorpyrifos may be near. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals laid down on April 29, 2021 a strongly worded, detailed ruling on chlorpyrifos. The Court ordered the EPA to either revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances and ban its food uses, or issue the “reasonable certainty of no harm” safety finding called for in the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).

After 14 years of hearings, motions, and orders started by a lawsuit filed in 2007 by two environmental groups, the Court gave EPA only 60 days to take final action.

The EPA almost certainly will not be able to issue the now-mandatory FQPA finding, because “the science linking prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes is compelling and has been so since 2011,” according to HHRA’s Executive Director Dr. Charles Benbrook (Benbrook, 2021).

Benbrook has worked on chlorpyrifos use, risk assessment, and regulation for decades. Concern over prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos was a primary reason the National Academy of Sciences called for major pesticide regulatory reform in its seminal 1993 report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children.

Chlorpyrifos featured prominently in Congressional debate leading to passage of the FQPA in 1996. What to do about significant in-home and agricultural use of chlorpyrifos was the acid test for EPA in the implementation of the FQPA.

Chuck currently serves as an expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs and their children in litigation stemming from prenatal chlorpyrifos exposures in California.

The 9th Circuit Court order is not likely to be contested by EPA or the Department of Justice. As a result, EPA will restart a process begun in the fall of 2015 that will lead to the revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances, a step that will likely end all uses on food crops within about one year. This is considered “a major victory for public health—especially for children” by public health and environmental advocates (NRDC, 2021). But revoking tolerances in the US will not keep chlorpyrifos out of foods imported by the US.

To truly finish the job of getting this developmental neurotoxin out of food, the US Department of State and the EPA need to petition the Codex Alimentarius to revoke all international tolerances (called Maximum Residue Limits, or MRLs). This critical step will extend to farmers, the environment, and consumers worldwide added margins of safety and lessened risk of farmworker poisonings and fish kills.

We’ve rounded up a resources on this court decision, chlorpyrifos, and the FQPA. See the links below and follow us here at HHRA for updates on the chlorpyrifos endgame.

Resources on Chlorpyrifos

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