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Pesticide approvals squeezing growersPesticide approvals squeezing growers

Actions by EPA look to take a precautionary rather than risk-based approach in pesticide approvals such as for chlorpyrifos.

Jacqui Fatka

January 15, 2016

2 Min Read
Pesticide approvals squeezing growers

A number of commodity grower groups met recently with the assistant administrator of Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) to discuss concerns about recent actions the agency has taken that many see as limiting the crop protection tools available to growers.

Grower representatives expressed frustration with how honeybee acute toxicity concerns are being presented by EPA and with the agency’s proposal to remove chlorpyrifos tolerances.


However, the thrust of the conversation was about the perceived changes in how EPA is moving forward with new proposals. In a newsletter, the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) said many believe that the agency has moved toward a “European Union precautionary principle model rather than the risk-versus-benefit approach that has been utilized in the U.S. for decades and is required of the agency by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).”

NSP said this meeting was likely the first of many to take place this year, as EPA is positioning 2016 to be a busy year in regulating pesticides.

Last fall, EPA opened a public comment period on its proposal to revoke all food residue tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Jan. 5, 2016, marked the end of EPA's comment period on the proposed ban.

Agricultural groups, including the California Farm Bureau, the National Sunflower Assn. and the Pacific Northwest Vegetable Growers Assn., are pressing EPA to keep the tolerances in place, arguing that the pesticide is a necessary tool to control bugs.

More than 80,000 individuals wrote to EPA in support of the ban rule. In addition to these comments and the scientists' letter, EPA received technical comments from Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and other groups urging EPA to move forward with the ban as proposed instead of “weakening the rule to allow some uses of chlorpyrifos to continue.” The groups also highlighted ongoing concerns, detailed in previous comments, over EPA's inadequate assessment of chlorpyrifos' harms to children and exposures to people in agricultural communities. On Jan. 11, a long-awaited health assessment from the California Environmental Protection Agency said chlorpyrifos poses a risk to California children.

Roughly 6 million lb. of chlorpyrifos were used to control insects on a variety of crops in 2012, the latest year data are available from the U.S. Geological Survey; that was down from about 13 million lb. in 1994. Most was applied on soybeans, orchards and grapes.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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