Chlormequat: What you need to know about this problematic pesticide

  • Chlormequat is a chemical that can disrupt fetal growth and harm the reproductive system.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to allow first-time uses of the toxic pesticide on U.S. crops.
  • Chlormequat already shows up in food sold in the U.S. – we don’t need more.

The Environmental Protection Agency could soon allow chlormequat, a pesticide that may harm children’s health, on non-organic wheat and oats used to make hundreds of popular food products. Here’s what you need to know about this chemical.

What is chlormequat? 

Chlormequat is a highly toxic agricultural chemical the EPA refers to as a pesticide. It works by altering plant growth. When applied to oat and grain crops while they’re growing, it stops the plants from bending over, which can make harvesting difficult. 

Animal studies show chlormequat can damage the reproductive system and disrupt fetal growth, creating particular concerns about how ingesting it might harm children.

Why should I care?

EWG research shows the pesticide already shows up on food in the U.S., even though it’s not currently allowed on domestic crops. Why? Because in 2018, under the Trump administration, the EPA started to permit chlormequat residue on imported oats. The agency started allowing even higher levels of chlormequat residues in 2020.

In our research, chlormequat was found in all but one of 13 non-organic oat-based cereals, granolas and other products. Of these products, 11 had chlormequat levels higher than the amount we think is safe for children’s health.

What’s happening now?

Now the EPA is proposing to allow chlormequat on domestic wheat and oats and permit residues in our milk, meat, dairy and eggs.

What’s so bad about chlormequat residues?

We know exposure to this chemical may be a health risk. If the EPA finalizes its proposal, much more chlormequat will likely end up on food.

Two studies show chlormequat is detected in samples from more than 98 percent of people from around the U.K. and Sweden, where chlormequat is commonly used. These results show just how widespread exposure to this pesticide can be when companies are allowed to use it on oat, wheat and other common crops that provide food for millions.

How can we stop this?

Tell the EPA it shouldn’t allow chlormequat on the food we eat every day. Fill out the form below to add your name to EWG’s petition to the EPA to stop allowing the use of chlormequat.

Help Put a Stop to Chlormequat!

A new EPA proposal would dramatically increase the level of chlormequat allowed in the U.S.

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