The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has made a decision regarding chlorpyrifos registrations. As of August 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been given 60 days to cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations.
The EPA had already been in the process of banning chlorpyrifos at the end of the Obama administration. However, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he was going to change course and allow the agriculture industry to continue using the product shortly after President Trump took office. The EPA responded to pressures from environmental grounds in early 2017 with a statement highlighting the importance of chlorpyrifos in farming operations and that the agency relied on thorough scientific information when issuing decisions.
That sentiment was not reflected by the three-judge panel that found “there was no justification for the EPA’s decision in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children.”
Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote, “the EPA has stalled on banning chlorpyrifos, first by largely ignoring a petition properly filed pursuant to law seeking such a ban, then by temporizing in response to repeated orders by the court to respond to the petition.”
“EPA is reviewing the decision,” EPA Spokesperson Michael Abboud said in a statement. “The Columbia Center’s data underlying the court’s assumptions remains inaccessible and has hindered the agency’s ongoing process to fully evaluate the pesticide using the best available, transparent science.”
The use of chlorpyrifos has come under significant scrutiny for a number of years, culminating in 2015 when state regulators declared it a restricted-use material. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the agricultural industry has significantly reduced the amount of chlorpyrifos being used in farming operations after decades of use. However, the product is still commonly used in wine grapes, cotton, and citrus, with many growers noting it is the only effective material to combat certain pests.