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Chlorpyrifos Petition Summary

The government needs to urgently reassess and ban the brain-damaging insecticide chlorpyrifos. NZ children are exposed to high levels of it compared to other countries.

Our petition asked for the urgent reassessment and ban of the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

Petition reason:

NZ children have higher levels of chlorpyrifos in their urine than US and other countries. Low level exposure to chlorpyrifos damages children’s brains and neurodevelopment. Chlorpyrifos has been found to meet threshold criteria for a Persistent Organic Pollutant under the Stockholm Convention. Chlorpyrifos has been found in NZ food, waterways and alpine air, and in Antarctica. Chlorpyrifos is banned in at least 39 countries, including EU, UK, Canada. There are safer alternatives.


Our submission describes how chlorpyrifos has many persistent adverse effects on people's health, especially children. A 2022 study shows that New Zealand children are exposed to alarmingly high levels of chlorpyrifos compared to other countries. Very low levels, such as are found in food, can irreversibly harm the pre- and postnatal brain and pubertal development.

A number of recent NZ government surveys have found this insecticide in a wide range of food, including raisins, peanut butter, anything containing wheat, frozen mixed berries, grapes, tomatoes, avocados, pears, mandarins, a range of summer fruit, broccoli, various green vegetables and baby food.

Dietary intake represents the major source of pesticide exposure for infants and children, concludes the authoritative National Research Council report Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children in 1993. This is backed up by a number of intervention studies around the world that have measured children’s urine, usually for organophosphate metabolites or breakdown products, before and after eating organic food over a period of time, and usually the results have been dramatic and immediate. A useful example of this is a very short video about a Swedish family on YouTube: “The Effect of Organic Food”.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded in 2016 that chlorpyrifos in food is unsafe for ALL POPULATIONS