An end in sight for chlorpyrifos | Pesticide Action Network
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An end in sight for chlorpyrifos

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Kid in field

Last week, California got great news from the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) — use of the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos will be forbidden in California after December 31, 2020.

Chlorpyrifos has been linked to severe and permanent brain damage in young children, including ADHD, IQ loss and autism. It has also been the source of several farmworker poisonings in the state. 

Steps to eradication

While the use of chlorpyrifos in California will end next December, there are a few key dates to look forward to before then that will aid in eliminating the harmful chemicals from the state’s agricultural and food system. DowDuPont (now Corteva), the principal manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, will have to cease all sales of the pesticide in California as soon as November 8.

Then, distributors must stop selling the chemical to growers by February 6, 2020, with an exception made for granular forms of the chemical, which are not associated with detrimental health effects according to DPR. Hopefully with sales ending in February, chlorpyrifos will be mostly out of circulation well before the date in December fully prohibiting use.

Until then, all uses of chlorpyrifos must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives. These restrictions do 

An ongoing process

PAN celebrated California Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement in May of this year to initiate the cancellation process of chlorpyrifos — applauding this strong action at the state level while we await progress on the pesticide at the federal level.

But as we celebrated, we braced ourselves for an ongoing and possibly unwieldy battle to see the cancellation process though. Just last month, the agrichemical corporations that manufacture chlorpyrifos filed an opposition to the accusations served against them by DPR that kicked off the cancellation process. 

So last week’s announcement from DPR with a concrete timeline for phasing out chlorpyrifos was a welcome victory. Since the original announcement of the cancellation in May, PAN staff have been serving on a newly created work group to identify, evaluate and recommend alternative pest management solutions. PAN’s California Organizer and Policy Advocate Medha Chandra shared:

“As we look toward ending chlorpyrifos use across California by December 2020, we urge the administration to recognize the fundamental role soil health plays in ensuring crop health and resilience to pests and disease, and to focus on integrated pest management as an alternative to chlorpyrifos.”

The campaign to ban chlorpyrifos has been ongoing for over two decades — the wins we’re seeing today are the culmination of a process that began back in 2000. We’re eagerly looking forward to January 1, 2021, the first day of a chlorpyrifos-free California!

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