Chlorpyrifos rule: More than 80 ag groups object to EPA's decision

More than 80 ag organizations formally object to EPA chlorpyrifos rule

More than 80 ag organizations formally object to EPA chlorpyrifos rule

A group of more than 80 agricultural organizations have filed formal objections to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Aug. 30 rule to revoke all tolerances of the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

In a final rule, EPA revoked all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos, which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. 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.

“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,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “After the delays and denials of the prior administration, EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for a large variety of agricultural uses, including soybeans, fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, and other row crops, as well as non-food uses. It has been found to inhibit an enzyme, which leads to neurotoxicity, and has also been associated with potential neurological effects in children.

Additionally, EPA’s rule revokes tolerances on crop uses where many growers have few or no pest management alternatives, leaving them exposed to hundreds of millions of dollars in irreparable crop damage. The revocation rule would also require food holders to provide retroactively-required application documents, which could result in the destruction of millions of dollars of safe food over a paperwork issue.

The coalition letter cited concerns with EPA’s revocation decision, including the processes EPA used and lack of scientific basis.

“It is upsetting that EPA has revoked such an important chemistry without input from USDA or other stakeholders. Chlorpyrifos is critical to the Michigan and Wisconsin cherry industries, as there are no other products that effectively control trunk borers,” Mike VanAgtmael, a west Michigan cherry grower and chairman of the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI), said in a news release.

"With more than 4 million cherry trees, Michigan grows 75% of the total U.S. production of tart cherries and roughly 20% of the total U.S. production of sweet cherries. Without this product, our growers risk losing a lot of trees, potentially jeopardizing their family farms."

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall called the EPA action shortsighted, saying, “Taking care of the land and our natural resources is a top priority for farmers, and this revocation rule actually makes it harder for us to do that.”

“EPA veered from its own scientific evidence in a decision that could be damaging to the land, to farmers and to our efforts to fight food insecurity.”

The groups asked EPA to postpone implementing the rule until objections can be formally considered and addressed by the agency.

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