EPA ends chlorpyrifos use on food

Aug. 19, 2021

BISMARCK – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revoked all tolerances and filed their intent to cancel all registrations for food uses of chlorpyrifos.

In April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to “issue a final rule in which the agency either modifies the chlorpyrifos tolerances with a supporting safety determination or revokes the tolerances and modifies or cancels food-use registrations of chlorpyrifos.” The EPA announcement yesterday reflects their decision to do the latter.

“Chlorpyrifos is a widely used insecticide in the Midwest and in North Dakota,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Although the 9th Circuit court decision may have incorrectly assessed the scientific evidence, it is just as unfortunate that the current administration and EPA chose to ban chlorpyrifos altogether instead of simply issuing rules permitting the continued safe application of this critical pesticide.”

Goehring continued, “This EPA decision will have a big impact on the producer and the consumer alike as there are so very few options to control insects. For some crops and target pests, chlorpyrifos is the only line of defense, with no viable alternatives. This EPA decision will negatively affect the future production and quality of food.”

Chlorpyrifos is in common products such as Lorsban, Dursban, Cobalt and many others.

“Producers should consult with their local agronomists or chemical representatives to assess all available alternatives to use instead of chlorpyrifos,” Goehring said. “For now, the EPA is still allowing chlorpyrifos for non-food use, such as mosquito control, but may still issue further restrictions in the near future.”

Chlorpyrifos hasn’t been available for household use since 2000 but has remained on the market for commercial agriculture. Environmental groups petitioned the EPA and in 2015, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to make a decision on the agricultural use of chlorpyrifos. In 2017 and again in 2019, the EPA ruled that a broader ban was not warranted. This was legally challenged by a coalition of groups in 2019 and this challenge led to the April 2021 court decision.