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EPA to ban the use of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos on food crops

EPA delivered the final death blow to agricultural uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos on Aug. 18, in a long-awaited victory for public health.

Farmers have been spraying chlorpyrifos on crops, including strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, and corn since 1965. Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service., Public Domain
Farmers have been spraying chlorpyrifos on crops, including strawberries, apples, citrus, broccoli, and corn since 1965. Photo courtesy of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service., Public Domain

EPA delivered the final death blow to agricultural uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos Wednesday, Aug. 18, in a long-awaited victory for environmental, labor, and public health groups that have lobbied against the chemical for decades.

According to NPR.org, the pesticide has been linked to neurological damage in children, including reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders.

The insecticide, sold under the brand name Lorsban, has been used since 1965 on crops, particularly soybeans, fruit trees, nut trees, broccoli, and cauliflower, corn, and strawberries. And up until 2000, the chemical was sold in products used in homes to control ants, roaches, and mosquitos.

“In a final rule released today, EPA is revoking all ‘tolerances’ for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food,” the agency explained in a news release, reports Progressive Farmer.

“In addition, the agency will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances.”

The news release quoted EPA Administrator Michael Regan stating: “Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide.”

The process to ban the use of chlorpyrifos began during the Obama administration. Near the end of Obama’s term in office, the EPA was considering a ban on the insecticide, but under the Trump administration, the agency concluded there wasn’t enough evidence showing its harmful effects to take it off the market.

“It took far too long, but children will no longer be eating food tainted with a pesticide that causes intellectual learning disabilities,” said Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice, which represents health and labor organizations behind the lawsuit. “Chlorpyrifos will finally be out of our fruits and vegetables.”

It should be noted that for now, chlorpyrifos will still be allowed for nonfood purposes, such as mosquito control.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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