WASHINGTON – Environmental groups are continuing to press their case for a ban of chlorpyrifos, arguing that EPA’s decision last week to allow continued use of the insecticide did not comply with a court order.
In a motion filed today in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) said that EPA’s response to their 2007 petition, which sought to revoke all food tolerances and cancel all registrations of chlorpyrifos, “is no response at all and certainly not what this court ordered EPA to do by March 31.”
When it announced last week that it would continue to allow use of chlorpyrifos (trade name: Lorsban), EPA said in a news release that its October 2015 proposal to revoke food tolerances “largely relied on certain epidemiological study outcomes, whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions.” The agency said it would complete its registration review of chlorpyrifos by Oct. 1, 2022.
In its order denying the NRDC/PAN petition, which was published in today’s Federal Register, EPA said it had “concluded that, despite several years of study, the science addressing (chlorpyrifos’) neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and that further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion of registration review is warranted to achieve greater certainty as to whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from current human exposures.”
But in their court filing, NRDC and PAN said EPA had “sidestepped this court’s orders and failed to act on the substance of the petition.”
“In refusing to act, EPA made no new safety findings, nor could it find chlorpyrifos safe given the extensive scientific record documenting hazards from chlorpyrifos,” the groups said.
In a news release, NRDC senior scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman said, “EPA is refusing to take this chemical off the market – but it is not rescinding its own scientists’ finding that this pesticide is toxic to children. Parents shouldn’t have to worry that a dangerous chemical might be lurking in the fruits and veggies they feed their kids. The health of our children must come before chemical corporations.”
Chlorpyrifos manufacturer Dow AgroSciences said it “is aware of the petitioners’ motion seeking further relief, but we have not had sufficient time to review it.” EPA declined to comment on the motion, according to an article in The Guardian.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, CropLife America and USDA all praised EPA’s decision, saying it preserved a valuable crop protection tool for farmers. “EPA’s decision to deny the chlorpyrifos petition is a hopeful indication that EPA is recommitting to adherence to established requirements and guidelines relating to transparency, public process and scientific integrity,” CropLife said.
NRDC and PAN asked the court to give EPA 30 days “to act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish deadlines for the next steps in the revocation and cancellation processes for chlorpyrifos.”
EPA has asked the court to give it until April 28 to respond to the NRDC/PAN motion.