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Environment

EPA denies petition to ban chlorpyrifos

by Britt E. Erickson
April 3, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 14

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Credit: Phana Sitti/Shutterstock
Chlorpyrifos is sprayed on numerous crops, including cauliflower.
Credit: Phana Sitti/Shutterstock
Chlorpyrifos is sprayed on numerous crops, including cauliflower.

The Trump EPA has denied a petition from environmental groups to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Under the Obama Administration, EPA proposed twice to revoke all food tolerances for the organophosphate insecticide. EPA previously said that exposure to chlorpyrifos from food and drinking water poses a human health risk, citing neurotoxicity concerns. Dow AgroSciences, which makes the pesticide, and farmers have been pushing hard to keep chlorpyrifos on the market. They claim that chlorpyrifos is safely used on dozens of crops in the U.S. and that there are no alternatives for many pests. The Trump Administration sided with pesticide and farm groups and reversed EPA’s earlier decision. Responding to the petition from environmental groups, EPA says that “the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved,” and further evaluation is warranted. EPA plans to continue evaluating the risks of chlorpyrifos over the next five years. The agency must complete its review of all chlorpyrifos uses by Oct. 1, 2022, as part of its routine review of pesticides. Groups that filed the petition are outraged by EPA’s about-face move. “EPA’s refusal to ban this dangerous pesticide is unconscionable,” says Patti Goldman, an attorney for one of the groups, Earthjustice. “EPA is defying its legal obligation to protect children from unsafe pesticides,” she says. The groups plan to go back to court to challenge EPA’s decision.

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