Farm groups and pesticide makers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its decision to ban chlorpyrifos, a chemical the agriculture industry says it still needs for crop protection.

The Oregon and Washington Farm Bureaus are among 82 organizations that signed comments to the EPA arguing to delay the ban until the agency responds to their concerns.

“I don’t believe that this administration will change its mind, but we can’t give up hope that science will prevail over politics,” Washington Farm Bureau CEO John Stuhlmiller said.

The ban, announced in August, takes effect Feb. 28 and applies to all uses for growing food crops. EPA will review and consider all objections and will respond to the objections, an agency spokesman said in an email.

Labor and environmental groups hailed the ban. They claimed chlorpyrifos was a danger to the brains of children and unborn children.

The timing of the ban was dictated by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It gave anti-pesticide groups the outcome they sought by petitioning to prohibit chlorpyrifos in 2007.

The Obama administration tentatively planned to ban chlorpyrifos, but postponed the final decision until after President Obama’s second term ended.

A Washington Farm Bureau delegation brought up chlorpyrifos at a meeting in 2017 with Trump officials in Washington, D.C. Several months later, the Trump EPA rejected the petition.

“We won the day and got a complete victory and now it’s being undone,” Stuhlmiller said.

Ban advocates continued to press their case in the 9th circuit. A three-judge panel in April ordered the Biden EPA to ban the chemical or modify its uses.

The EPA revoked all tolerances for chlorpyrifos residue on food, while continuing to let it be used for non-food purposes, such as on golf courses.

Food residue wasn’t a health hazard, according to the EPA, but combined with other potential exposures, such as drinking water, the agency said it wasn’t certain chlorpyrifos met health standards.

Farm groups and the pesticide industry argue the ban goes too far, ignoring a 2020 finding by the EPA that chlorpyrifos could be used safely on at least 11 crops in some states.

The list included apples, alfalfa, strawberries and sugar beets grown in the Northwest. The other crops were asparagus and tart cherries in Michigan, wheat in the Plains, and citrus, cotton, peaches and soybeans.

The ban also will apply to residue on imported food. Farm groups warn the ban will invite retaliation against U.S. agricultural exports.

Other groups signing the letter to the EPA include the California Farm Bureau, Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association, Washington Friends of Farms and Forests, and the Washington Potato and Onion Association.

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you