EPA Bans Chlorpyrifos on Food

Ernie Neff Pesticides

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food. It said it is taking the action to better protect human health, particularly that of children and farmworkers. In a final rule released in August, EPA is revoking all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos. The tolerances establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. In addition, the agency will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances.

“Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses, including fruit and nut trees. It has been found to inhibit an enzyme, which leads to neurotoxicity, and has also been associated with potential neurological effects in children.

The steps the agency announced respond to the Ninth Circuit’s order directing EPA to issue a final rule in response to the 2007 petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council. The petition requested that EPA revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, or the maximum allowed residue levels in food, because those tolerances were not safe, in part due to the potential for neurodevelopmental effects in children. EPA denied the petition in 2017 and denied the subsequent objections in 2019. Those denials were challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 by a coalition of farmworker, health, environmental and other groups. The court subsequently ordered EPA to grant the petition.

A number of other countries and some states including California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland and Oregon have taken similar action to restrict the use of this pesticide on food.

More information about chlorpyrifos and the final tolerance rule is available on EPA’s website.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

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