The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals forced the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to ban the use of a pesticide widely used to prevent insects from destroying crops.
The court in San Francisco ordered the agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the U.S. within the next two months. A slew of activists and farmers sought to sue the EPA in 2017 after former Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era move to ban the chemical.
“The panel held that there was no justification for the EPA’s decision in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children,” Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in the court’s opinion. The EPA is considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court.
Activists championed the court’s decision.
“Some things are too sacred to play politics with, and our kids top the list,” Erik Olson, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a press statement. The court’s ruling comes after two years of haggling over the validity of research suggesting chlorpyrifos is harmful for children.
“The court has made it clear that children’s health must come before powerful polluters,” he added. “This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities.” (RELATED: Trump’s EPA Targets Academics For Hiding Data Used To Ban A Popular Pesticide)
The EPA has sought data sets from a study Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) conducted that the Obama-era agency used to justify a proposed rule in November 2015 to revoke the tolerances for chlorpyrifos, essentially banning the pesticide from use.
EPA denied the environmentalist a petition in March 2017 to “revoke all food tolerances and cancel all registration” for chlorpyrifos. Dow Chemical, which manufacturers the chemical, applauded EPA’s ruling, as did the Department of Agriculture. EPA already restricts products containing chlorpyrifos for home and agricultural use.
U.S. farms use about 6 million pounds of chlorpyrifos each year. If nothing had changed legally, the EPA would no longer have allowed trace amounts of chemical in food, effectively banning the pesticide in the country.
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