Congressional Republicans, a pesticide maker and foreign trading partners are joining U.S. farmers in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its pending ban of chlorpyrifos.

Meanwhile, labor, environmental and anti-pesticide groups are pressing the EPA to follow through and prohibit chlorpyrifos residue on food on Feb. 28.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Republican members of the House and Senate agriculture committees said the ban on the widely used pesticide will cause problems for growers.

"The significance of the supply chain problems and impacts to the producers and rural communities cannot be overstated," according to the lawmakers.

Efforts to obtain comment from the EPA were unsuccessful.

The EPA announced in August it was banning chlorpyrifos, except for non-crop uses such as killing bugs on golf courses or ticks on cattle. At the time, Regan said the ban was overdue and will protect children and farmworkers from a potentially dangerous pesticide.

The ban came 14 years after the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America petitioned the EPA. The Obama EPA tentatively supported a ban, but punted the final decision to the next administration.

The Trump EPA proposed limiting chlorpyrifos to 11 crops in select states. The Biden EPA, pushed to make a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, opted for a total ban.

The EPA, however, faces objections and formal requests for stays that could lead to lawsuits.

Gharda Chemicals International has asked the EPA to postpone the ban "until judicial review in the courts is exhausted."

Gharda identifies itself as the primary supplier of chlorpyrifos products in the U.S., sold under the brand name Pilot. The company increased chlorpyrifos production at its India plant after Corteva announced in 2020 it would stop making the chemical, according to filings with the EPA.

Gharda said it was negotiating with EPA to modify the pesticide's registered uses when the agency announced the ban, potentially damaging the company's finances and reputation.

The ban on chlorpyrifos residue would apply to imported food. It would be a stricter standard than that adopted by the United Nations and World Health Organization.

Colombia's coffee and bananas exports to the U.S. would be jeopardized, according to the Colombia Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism.

Colombian farmers have no competitive substitute for controlling the coffee berry borer or banana black weevils, according to the ministry.

Colombia's per capita income is less than one-tenth of U.S. incomes, according to the World Bank. Hundreds of thousands of families cultivate coffee and bananas and losing the U.S. market will have social harm, according to the Colombian ministry. "This is a consequence of the proposed ban on chlorpyrifos."

Ecuadorian officials told the EPA that farmers in the South American country use chlorpyrifos on crops such as mangoes and papayas.

Pests are a constantly changing problem, due largely to climate change, and losing chlorpyrifos would hurt pest control, according Ecuadorian officials.

The International Pepper Community — made up of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sir Lanka and Vietnam — said it had the "deepest concern" that the ban will disrupt trade with the U.S.

Earthjustice, an environmental law firm that represents a coalition that filed the lawsuit that eventually moved EPA to ban chlorpyrifos, said allowing food uses for chlorpyrifos would defy the law and science. 

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