ARA is disappointed in EPA’s decision to ban chlorpyrifos on food crops

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will ban the use of chlorpyrifos on all food crops grown in the U.S.

Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock says they are extremely disappointed in the decision.

“This is an essential tool that there are very few alternatives for and so this is going to tie the hands of growers who rely on this product to deliver bug-free produce to the grocery stores,” he says.

The EPA issued a final rule Wednesday revoking all tolerances, which establish the amounts of the pesticide allowed on food. The agency says it will also issue notice of intent to cancel all registered food uses under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan says this will help ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from “the potentially dangerous consequences” of the pesticide. EPA says chlorpyrifos has been found to inhibit an enzyme, which leads to neurotoxicity, and has also been associated with potential neurological effects in children.

ARA is urging the agency to reconsider the decision.

What I would like to see happen, is for EPA to do what they’ve promised they will do, and that is to make these regulations based on science and that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would get out of their way so they can do that,” Coppock says.

Chlorpyrifos has a lot of agricultural uses, including soybeans, fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, and other row crops, as well as non-food uses. As a seed treatment, it’s used by seed producers and vegetable farmers to help with pest pressure.

The announcement is in response to a Ninth Circuit order directing EPA to issue a final rule after a 2007 petition requesting EPA to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances. The previous administration’s EPA denied the petition in 2017 and objections in 2019. The denials were challenged by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019. In April 2021, the court ordered EPA to grant the petition, issue a final rule that either modifies or cancels food-use regulations.

Audio: Daren Coppock

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