A Controversial Pesticide Is Banned From Food Crops

EPA prohibits use of chlorpyrifos, overruling the Trump administration
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2021 11:32 AM CDT
A Controversial Pesticide Is Banned From Food Crops
Soybeans are harvested near Wamego, Kan.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

A long-running battle over a controversial pesticide is over—the EPA has banned the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops, reports NPR. The insecticide has been used for decades on crops, particularly soybeans, fruit trees, nut trees, broccoli, and cauliflower, per the AP. However, studies have linked it to neurological damage in children, as well as to health problems with farmworkers. The Obama administration began moves to outlaw the pesticide, but the Trump administration stopped them and allowed the use of chlorpyrifos to continue. That set off a flurry of legal challenges from farmworkers' unions and others, culminating in Wednesday's decision. In what the New York Times describes as an unusual move, the EPA is banning the chemical without the usual public comment period because the rule comes in response to a court order.

"It took far too long, but children will no longer be eating food tainted with a pesticide that causes intellectual learning disabilities," says attorney Patti Goldman of Earthjustice, one of the groups that pushed for the ban. However, Corteva Agriscience, which made use of the chemical in its Lorsban product, said farmers would be robbed of an "important tool," per the AP. A post at Progressive Farmer notes that Corteva had actually halted production of Lorsban last year, in part because of falling demand. About 13 million pounds of the chemical were used per year in the 1990s, but that had been cut in half by 2010. The first company to produce it, Dow Chemical, had been fined nearly $900,000 in 1995 for failing to report safety concerns. For now, chlorpyrifos will still be allowed for nonfood purposes, such as mosquito control. (More pesticides stories.)

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