In what may go down as one of the more criticized moves by the Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump, the government agency declined to ban chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that is used on a slew of crops.
The agency denied the request by a dozen environmental groups, led by Earth justice, to ban the pesticide.
This pesticide has been linked to brain damage in children, low IQ, memory loss, and breathing problems. The Obama administration said it would ban the use of the toxic chemical in 2015, but the rule never took effect.
"Last summer, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban all sales of the pesticide".
The EPA says it will release a review of the chemical's usage by 2022.
"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 said in a statement Thursday. He said his operation uses chlorpyrifos on rare occasions, like during an outbreak of the vine mealybug on grape crops.
Karr and environmental advocates like the Environmental Working Group say buying organic produce can reduce exposure to pesticides for pregnant women and children, but that higher prices for organic products can be a problem for many households.
Still, the decision to deny the petition could bring the country closer to final resolution of a decades-long battle over a pesticide used on fruits, vegetables and cereals that Americans eat every day. The scientific evidence warranted a ban from agricultural use just as the chemical was banned from household use almost two decades ago because of the known dangers, the agency found.
The agency said the environmental groups had failed to prove that the pesticide wasn't safe. "That review could result in further use limitations affecting the outcome of EPA's assessment".
Farmers have pressed to keep chlorpyrifos, which has always been banned from indoor use, available for use on crops.
"The EPA defense Thursday showed that 'as long as the Trump administration is in charge, this EPA will favor the interests of the chemical lobby over children's safety, ' said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group environmental advocacy organization", the AP's Ellen Knickmeyer writes.
Several states are already banning or moving to ban chlorpyrifos, including Hawaii and NY.
"The economic and human health impacts are substantial and real", Dr Leonardo Trasande, who directs the division of environmental pediatrics within the department of pediatrics at New York University's Langone Health, told me.
Caroline Cox, a senior scientist at the Center for Environmental Health, said chlorpyrifos was a unique case, in that the evidence was abundant on how unsafe it was. "We will continue to fight until chlorpyrifos is banned and children and farmworkers are safe from this unsafe chemical".
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