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EPA Bans Use of Chlorpyrifos Linked To Health Issues in Children

After a federal appeals court ordered the government to evaluate whether the pesticide is safe or should be banned in April, the EPA took action.

Chintu Das
Spraying of Pesticides
Spraying of Pesticides

The Biden administration said on Wednesday that chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide that has long been a target of environmentalists, will no longer be allowed on food crops because it poses a risk to children and agricultural workers. 

The Environmental Protection Agency took action after a federal appeals court ordered the government in April to quickly determine whether the pesticide is safe or should be banned. 

The EPA had implemented a ban under the Obama administration, but it was repealed immediately after President Donald Trump entered office in 2017. 

"The Environmental Protection Agency takes a long overdue action to protect public health," stated Administrator Michael Regan. "After the previous administration's delays and rejections, the EPA will follow the evidence and prioritize health and safety." 

Soybeans, fruit and nut trees, broccoli, and cauliflower are among the crops treated with chlorpyrifos. It's been connected to a risk of brain damage in kids. 

In 2007, the Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw all Chlorpyrifos in food approvals. 

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, stated, "It is great to see the EPA once again adhere to the best available science when making crucial regulatory decisions." 

Chlorpyrifos did not satisfy a legally necessary threshold of reasonable assurance that exposure to the pesticide would not be hazardous, according to the EPA. 

Its use on foods has been prohibited by the European Union, Canada, and certain states, including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Oregon. According to the EPA, these restrictions, as well as the development of alternative pesticides, have resulted in a decrease in the usage of chlorpyrifos by farmers. 

The prohibition will protect farmworkers, their families, communities, and the food supply, according to Allison Johnson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "On this deadly chemical, the EPA is finally acting on its own conclusions." 

"We are relieved that farmworkers and their families will no longer have to worry about the variety of ways this pesticide might harm their lives," Teresa Romero, president of United Farm Workers, said. 

Corteva Inc. was the world's largest producer of the pesticide until it ceased making it last year. The firm, which was formed by the merger of Dow Chemical and Dupont, previously stated that falling sales were the driving force behind its decision and that chlorpyrifos was safe. 

In a statement, the company said that the EPA's decision "effectively removes an important tool for farmers," adding that "it appears that the agency's rationale is inconsistent with the complete and robust database of more than 4,000 studies and reports that have examined the product in terms of health, safety, and the environment." 

The EPA said it will keep looking into whether Chlorpyrifos may be used for things like cow ear tags and mosquito control that aren't directly related to food production. In Congress, bills have been filed to restrict the use of Chlorpyrifos and other pesticides. 

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