Federal Appeals Court orders EPA to ban toxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos

“This ruling is a huge victory for children and communities across the country who will finally be spared by needless poisonings and lifelong learning disabilities.”

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Yesterday, the 9th Circuit of Court Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban all food uses of the pesticide chlorpyrifos which is a huge victory for farmers and children. The pesticide is linked to memory loss and developmental harm. 

“This ruling is a huge victory for children and communities across the country who will finally be spared by needless poisonings and lifelong learning disabilities,” says Earthjustice. 

Numerous scientific studies have found that exposure to organophosphate pesticides, the class of chemicals that includes chlorpyrifos, is linked to attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum disorders, hand tremors, and other symptoms in children. Organophosphates—which also include sarin nerve gas—were originally developed by the Nazis for chemical warfare but were later adopted for agricultural uses, reports Common Dreams

“We are gratified by the court’s decision in this case, yet, outraged that the EPA has dragged this out for four years after their 2015 decision based on sound science to ban all food uses of chlorpyrifos. This pesticide was banned for residential use some 20 years ago, because of its known impacts on children living in urban areas,” said Jeannie Economos from the Farmworker Association of Florida.

While chlorpyrifos was banned back in 2001 in the household, the dangerous pesticide is still used on many crops which poses a health danger to farmers and rural residents. Strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, and corn are among the most popular fruits and vegetables exposed and drinking water can also be affected. 

The EPA has 60 days to “revoke all tolerances or modify the tolerances with the requisite safety findings.”  

“EPA must now follow the law, ban chlorpyrifos, and protect children and farmworkers from a pesticide we know is linked to numerous developmental harms. It would be unconscionable for EPA to expose children to this pesticide for any longer. We urge it to do the right thing at long last. However, chlorpyrifos is just one of dozens of organophosphates used on our fruits and vegetables. So while we celebrate this win today, EPA must also ban all organophosphates to fully protect public health,” says Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice.

According to NRDC, in the absence of EPA action, states have begun to get the pesticide out of the fields. As a result of a landmark settlement, California ended sales of chlorpyrifos in February of 2020 and completely banned spraying the pesticide in January of 2021.  Hawaii’s first in the nation ban goes into effect in 2022, New York has initiated a regulatory process and Maryland has committed to a phase-out.  Legislation is also pending in Congress to ban chlorpyrifos and similar pesticides nationwide.

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