The EPA concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence of the negative neurodevelopmental effects of chlorpyrifos - a pesticide used in farming - to justify a ban requested by environmental groups and a collection of states. "They said studies show that exposures to the pesticide is linked to low birth weight, reduced IQ, attention disorders and other issues in infants and children", writes Reuters' Valerie Volcovici.
President Barack Obama's administration initiated a blanket ban of chlorpyrifos in 2015, but it was repealed by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Last August, a three-judge panel of the court ordered EPA to vacate Pruitt's reversal and ordered the agency to proceed with the original ban on chlorpyrifos. The company is now a part of Corteva Agriscience. "We are committed to working with the Agency as it seeks to make an accurate assessment and, if necessary, reduce potential exposures, while also ensuring that growers for whom chlorpyrifos is a critical tool can continue to use the product safely", said Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for the firm, in an email to Reuters.
"EPA has determined that their objections must be denied because the data available are not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable to meet petitioners' burden to present evidence demonstrating that the tolerances are not safe", the agency ruled in a statement signed by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, its assistant administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The pesticide has been largely phased out of residential use since 2000, but its agricultural use remains widespread. "It is a tragedy that this administration sides with corporations instead of children's health". Environmental organizations have been petitioning the EPA to ban the chemical completely since 2007, but the agency recently announced that it will not ban chlorpyrifos due the lack of evidence against it. After oral arguments in March, the court ordered the EPA to formally respond to objections raised by a group of public interest groups and seven states opposed to chlorpyrifos within 90 days.
"This decision stands in the face of clear scientific evidence of the damaging effects of the pesticide, especially on the developing brains of young children".
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'To me, this starts the clock on the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops in the U.S., ' said former senior EPA attorney Kevin Minoli.
"By permitting chlorpyrifos to stay in our vegetables and fruit, Trump's EPA is breaking the legislation and neglecting the overwhelming scientific proof that this pesticide harms youngsters' brains", mentioned legal expert Patti Goldman of Earthjustice, who represents the teams that took the problem to court.
Labor groups say field workers and their families are greatly affected by the use of chlorpyrifos.
Several states are already banning or moving to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawaii and NY. That said, the fight is not yet over for the groups willing to fight the EPA's refusal to ban the chemical, and even states are making their own move against its usage.