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Decision Due in Mid-July on Banning Chlorpyrifos

Farmers have used chlorpyrifos (an insecticide known under the brand name Lorsban) for more than half a century on corn, soybeans, and other row crops. The EPA is under court order to decide by mid-July whether to ban the chemical. The decision could mark an end to years of legal wrangling over the organophosphate pesticide.

“At oral argument, EPA represented that it could issue a final decision…within 90 days of an order issued by this court,” said the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Its April 19 order came in a case filed by farm workers’ and environmental groups. Manufacturers agreed in 2000 to eliminate most homeowner uses of chlorpyrifos to satisfy stricter safety standards set by Congress.

California isn’t waiting for EPA. It announced a ban in early May, a process that could take two years to carry out. The state says it will fund research for safer and practical alternatives. DowDuPont, maker of chlorpyrifos, said it would fight the state ban of “an effective tool for farmers.” The California EPA says it acted “to prevent the significant harm this pesticide causes children, farmworkers, and vulnerable communities.”

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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