Mar 30, 2017EPA denies petition to ban chlorpyrifos
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order denying a petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used in U.S. agriculture.
“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt. “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.”
“This is a welcome decision grounded in evidence and science,” said Sheryl Kunickis, director of the Office of Pest Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “It means that this important pest management tool will remain available to growers, helping to ensure an abundant and affordable food supply for this nation and the world. This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States. It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables. We thank our colleagues at EPA for their hard work.”
In October 2015, under the previous administration, EPA proposed to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an active ingredient in insecticides. This proposal was issued in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. The October 2015 proposal largely relied on certain epidemiological study outcomes, whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions, according to an EPA press release.
“The public record lays out serious scientific concerns and substantive process gaps in the proposal. Reliable data, overwhelming in both quantity and quality, contradicts the reliance on – and misapplication of – studies to establish the end points and conclusions used to rationalize the proposal,” the press release states.
The USDA disagrees with the methodology used by the previous administration. Similarly, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also objected to EPA’s methodology. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) also expressed concerns with regard to EPA’s previous reliance on certain data the agency had used to support its proposal to ban the pesticide.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has released a statement in support of the petition’s denial.
“Farmers nationwide depend on chlorpyrifos in managing their crops,” said Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “It is widely and safely used for a wide range of crops, including alfalfa, citrus, vegetables, soybeans, almonds and others. It also protects hundreds of thousands of acres of grass seed production, where it controls aphids, cutworms and other pests. As USDA has noted, chlorpyrifos has been used as a part of environmentally friendly IPM (integrated pest management) programs for nearly 50 years.”
Duvall noted that the chemical is still subject to registration review and any concerns about its safe use can be addressed in that process.
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) also released a statement supporting the move.
“This action is victory for the use of science in regulating product use and for a responsive and predictable regulatory process,” said NCFC President Chuck Conner. “Hopefully the action today and the thorough review process that was used to arrive at it, can serve as a roadmap as the EPA moves forward in assessing other crop protectants in the review and registration process.”