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EPA declines to ban the popular insecticide chlorpyrifos


The EPA has opted not to ban the popular insecticide chlorpyrifos — something that will certainly hearten the many state-level Farm Bureaus and ag organizations that spoke out against the proposed ban.

Chlorpyrifos, which has been used for decades to help farmers defend their crops against a wide array of pests, has been on the discussion table for more than year, and the EPA’s decision comes just a couple of days before a deadline to act, which was put in place by a three-judge panel.

“We are pleased with the EPA’s decision today to deny a petition against chlorpyrifos and return to the standard pesticides review process as called for under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “The overwhelming scientific consensus is that chlorpyrifos is safe for use by farmers, and we are confident that the pesticide review process will reaffirm this.”

Jay Bragg, Texas Farm Bureau’s associate director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities, has said, “Chlorpyrifos is the best and safest pest control alternative for a number of these crops. The loss of chlorpyrifos would have a crippling effect on Texas and American agriculture.”

While many interpreted an earlier EPA report as indicting the safety of chlorpyrifos, the agency has more recently tiptoed that line, saying that there’s still a lot of scientific uncertainty — certainly enough warrant keep it around because of the massive benefits is has to modern food production. The chemical is widely used on citrus trees, strawberries, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Revoking chlorpyrifos would have easily cost the ag industry tens of millions of dollars.

Not directly related to the chlorpyrifos decision but still potential impactful for the ag sector down the road, the U.S. House on Thursday morning approved a bill to overhaul the EPA’s scientific advisory committee. The new bill, if it ultimately became law, would give the Science Advisory Board more industry voices and give the public more opportunity to comment on the board’s actions, among other things.

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