Late last week, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed EPA’s ban on the neurotoxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide associated with serious neurological damage in humans, with children being most at risk. The partial ban, which applied only to food tolerances, was the result of a final ruling in August 2021 and had been in effect for nearly two years — since February of 2022.
In rolling back this ruling, the 8th Circuit Court will open the market for chlorpyrifos to be used in food production starting in 2024 — which will continue until the EPA reinstates the ban.
Margaret Reeves, PAN’s Senior Scientist, issued the following statement in response to the court ruling:
“My heart is heavy knowing that this ruling means that millions of children, farmworkers and rural families will once again go unprotected from a chemical that was banned two decades ago for use in homes precisely because of its impacts on children’s neurological development. Despite severe health risks, its use was allowed to continue in agriculture. This was clearly a double standard in which farmworker children and others in agricultural communities apparently did not deserve similar protections.
The science documenting the harms of chlorpyrifos is strong, and has been for decades—we know that Chlorpyrifos has damaging effects on the human nervous system and even minimal exposure can lead to lifelong negative impacts on the nervous systems of children, infants and developing fetuses. Yet the 8th Circuit Court is allowing Chlorpyrifos to go back on the market — not due to lack of science, but because they claim EPA’s process, many years in the making, was rushed.”
Willa Childress, PAN’s Policy Analyst, added,
“EPA’s initial decision to ban Chlorpyrifos on food crops happened nearly ten years ago, in 2015—but the pesticide industry’s undue influence in our regulatory system means that this decision has now been reversed, weakened, and delayed numerous times. Meanwhile, Chlorpyrifos has been banned by multiple US states and 39 countries. EPA must act quickly to ensure that communities across the US resume protection from Chlorpyrifos exposure. We can’t fail to protect another generation of kids from this outdated and hazardous chemical.”
Rob Faux, PAN’s Communication Manager and Iowa farmer, added,:
“As a farmer in Iowa with 20 years of experience, I know that Chlorpyrifos products easily drift off-target, even in near ideal spraying conditions. I have experienced acute symptoms from exposure to these chemicals after drift incidents and I am aware that continued low-dose exposure presents a health risk.
As a member of a rural community, I am deeply concerned by the costs the people, especially children, pay when dangerous chemicals are not properly managed with appropriate restrictions. Farmers of food and feed crops have already shown that they can adapt their growing without Chlorpyrifos. This ruling is an insult to the farmers, farmworkers, children’s health practitioners, and so many others who have worked for decades to push the EPA to effectively limit the use of this dangerous pesticide.”