EPA disappoints on chlorpyrifos, again | Pesticide Action Network
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EPA disappoints on chlorpyrifos, again

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Sad kid on farm

The chlorpyrifos saga continues. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made the disappointing decision that the agency would continue to allow use of the brain-harming pesticide on food crops. The announcement just meets the deadline ordered in April by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for EPA to make a final decision on a petition to ban chlorpyrifos use on food crops. 

Ordered by the court

Chlorpyrifos was banned from home use nearly two decades ago, but agricultural use is ongoing — despite the fact that studies show exposure to chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides in infants and children is associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, loss of working memory, attention disorders, and even autism. 

Today’s decision is only the latest in an ongoing rollercoaster of announcements, proposals, appeals and lawsuits surrounding chlorpyrifos. Two years ago, the Trump administration reversed EPA’s own proposal to ban chlorpyrifos, weeks after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the head of the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Dow Chemical (renamed Corteva after merging with DuPont), which sells the chemical under the name of Lorsban.

Last year, the appellate court ordered EPA to finalize its proposed ban on the pesticide based on undisputed findings that chlorpyrifos is unsafe for public health and particularly harmful to children and farmworkers, but EPA asked and received a rehearing. In March of 2019, advocates represented by Earthjustice, including PAN, argued again in court that chlorpyrifos has no place in fruit or vegetable production, and in April the court ordered EPA to issue a chlorpyrifos decision. 

An ongoing battle

PAN and partners have been working on the chlorpyrifos issue for years, providing comments in 2002 on EPA’s aggregate assessment of the chemical. Back then, we knew that chlorpyrifos wasn’t safe for children, farmworkers, rural communities, or consumers. The science has only gotten stronger, and we maintain that these communities should not be exposed to chlorpyrifos at any level. 

We’re pushing at every level to get this harmful pesticide out of our food system; in addition to our lawsuit against EPA, we are supporting national bills in both the Senate and House to ban chlorpyrifos nationwide, and states are also stepping up with legislative action and bills to cancel all uses of the chemical.

PAN Executive Director Kristin Schafer had the following to say regarding EPA’s decision:

Today’s decision is shameful. It flies in the face of decades of strong scientific evidence, and the recommendations of the agency’s own scientists. This administration is putting children, workers and rural families across the country at continued risk for no good reason, and we will continue to press for a full federal ban of this dangerous chemical.

Shameful indeed. If you’re on Twitter, join us in putting the heat on EPA for the disappointing — but sadly not surprising — decision to continue allowing use of chlorpyrifos in the production of our food.


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