EPA withdraws all food uses of chlorpyrifos; advocates celebrate | Pesticide Action Network
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EPA withdraws all food uses of chlorpyrifos; advocates celebrate

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For Immediate Release: August 18th, 2021

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its withdrawal of all food uses of chlorpyrifos. This announcement follows the 9th Circuit Court’s May 2021 order to withdraw all uses of chlorpyrifos in food production that cannot be proven safe.

Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Executive Director, issued the following statement in response to EPA’s decision: 

“Together with partners across the country, we’re celebrating this decision that protects the health of millions of children, farmworkers, and rural families — and is long overdue. Science documenting the harms of this neurotoxic chemical has been strong for decades. It took persistent organizing, advocacy in statehouses, and coordinated legal action to finally force EPA to do its job.

“Our understanding is that today’s action will also result in a ban of chlorpyrifos use on commodity crops grown for feed, and in the coming months, EPA will consider action on all remaining (non-food) uses of chlorpyrifos as well. We urge the agency to also quickly withdraw these uses, so we can join the 35 countries that have already fully banned this dangerous chemical. 

“We’re hopeful that today’s decision signals a shift for this Administration, toward re-centering science and justice in decision-making about dangerous pesticides. For too long the pesticide industry’s interests have been prioritized over protecting children’s health or the health of those on the frontlines of industrial agriculture — farmworkers, farmers, and rural families. It’s time for this to change.”

PAN and our partners, including scientists, farmworkers, and community and national organizations have been campaigning to ban chlorpyrifos federally since 2000, when household uses were prohibited because exposure was known to harm children’s developing brains. In 2007, PAN teamed up with partners and the legal team at EarthJustice to submit a legal petition to EPA calling for an agricultural ban of products containing chlorpyrifos. It wasn’t until 2015 that EPA proposed a chlorpyrifos ban on food products. That pending federal decision was reversed in 2017, a decision which PAN and our partners again legally challenged in 2018. In response, the court issued its order to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos unless proven safe in May of 2021, which today’s food use ban responds to.

In response to the delay in federal action in 2017, advocates pressed for action to protect children, workers and communities at the state level. Since 2018, Hawai'i, California, New York, Maryland, and Maine have banned all uses of chlorpyrifos, and similar measures had been in motion in several other states.

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Pesticide Action Network works to create a just, thriving food system. PAN works alongside those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure — from farmworkers to rural communities to beekeepers. PAN links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. Together, we challenge the global proliferation of pesticides, defend basic rights to health and environmental quality, and work to ensure the transition to a just and viable food system.