In a move that the agency says will ensure farmers have access to a “crucial” pesticide for US agriculture, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has signed an order denying a petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos.
“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” Pruitt said in a statement. “By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results.”
In October 2015 the Obama administration proposed to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an active ingredient in insecticides. This proposal was issued in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America.
The United Farm Workers supported the proposed ban on the substance, citing studies showing that it harmed children’s developing brains and nervous systems including reduced IQ and increased risk of autism, Industrial Safety and Hygiene News reports.
The EPA says the 2015 proposal “largely relied on certain epidemiological study outcomes, whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions.”
The US Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) all say they disagree with the methodology used by the previous administration in its proposal to ban the pesticide.