Will Chlorpyrifos Be the Next Wave of Pesticide-Related Litigation?


While litigation and regulatory battles over the herbicide Roundup® continue, attention is now turning to other classes of agricultural agents including pesticides. One of these is chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide and mite and tick killer used to control pests on a variety of food and feed crops. As with glyphosate, the chemical used in Roundup®, there has been conflicting information regarding the risks of chlorpyrifos. Yet the surge in glyphosate lawsuits indicates that inconsistent studies may not stop chlorpyrifos from being the next wave in pesticide-related litigation.

Roundup® is a glyphosate-based herbicide that has been available since the mid-1970s and is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It has been registered in the US since 1974 and considered by some to be a “probable carcinogen.” Currently, thousands of plaintiffs are suing Monsanto alleging that Roundup® caused various cancers including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), lymphocytic lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, and other malignancies.

In the U.S., environmentalists have sought to ban chlorpyrifos since 2007. The EPA recently decided not to ban the chemical. This action contradicts the European Food Safety Authority which said that no safe exposure level can be set for the pesticide chlorpyrifos earlier this year. As noted by the Chemical and Engineering News, this suggests that the European Union is unlikely to allow chlorpyrifos use after its approval expires in January.

Chlorpyrifos is alleged to cause adverse effects on neurodevelopment particularly in children (low IQ, ADHD, memory problems, developmental delays, etc.) as well as reduced birth size, endocrine disruption, and lung and prostate cancer among other possible effects. Litigation to date has focused on forcing the EPA to ban the pesticide. However, it is likely that lawsuits against manufacturers will take hold as more scientific research is conducted.

Toxicology is a complex field of medicine dealing with the treatment of poisoning, drug overdose, and exposure to toxins or biological agents. While scientific studies provide necessary evidence, expert witnesses are needed to explain the research to juries and testify about the impact on a particular plaintiff. Attorneys involved in these lawsuits will need Medical Toxicologists who understand not only the effects of various toxins, but also have the expertise to determine whether patients have suffered from medically verifiable consequences of alleged exposure. Medical Toxicologists are physicians with sub-specialization in toxicology which allows them to testify on both the science and the clinical effects of a wide range of exposures and poisonings, including herbicides and pesticides. While highly qualified Toxicology experts are necessary, experts in other fields can testify regarding the type, scope and long-term impact of damage caused by exposure to chlorpyrifos. Expert witnesses in Neurology, Endocrinology, Oncology, Hematology and Pediatrics can provide valuable assistance in this respect.

If you are considering filing or defending against claims involving pesticides or herbicides, please contact Elite Medical Experts for help with finding nationally recognized expert witnesses for your case.

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