The Maryland General Assembly passed S.B. 300 Wednesday, making Maryland the fourth state to ban chlorpyrifos. Maryland now joins Hawaii, California and New York in placing restrictions on the pesticide. The Maryland ban sunsets in four years.
Chlorpyrifos is used to control pests on a variety of crops, including alfalfa, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts. In 2015, Environmental Protection Agency scientists under the Obama Administration moved forward with a proposed ban. In 2017, in one of its first actions under the Trump Administration, EPA reversed course on the ban.
In February, the Maryland Department of Agriculture itself began the regulatory process of banning chlorpyrifos. Despite the announcement, the Maryland Senate originally passed S.B. 300 just days later.
All sales of chlorpyrifos products to growers in California were scheduled to end on Feb. 6, 2020, and Corteva Agriscience said due to reduced demand for the product it will completely phase out production of chlorpyrifos in 2020. It has declined in use over the past decade as California growers have shifted to safer alternatives. Use of the pesticide dropped more than 50% from two million lb. in 2005 to just over 940,000 lb. in 2017, DPR said in a statement.
Earthjustice, on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of labor and health organizations, filed litigation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019. The summer before, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The Trump Administration challenged the decision, the case was reheard by the full court and, in April 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court ordered EPA to decide by July 18, 2019, if it would ban chlorpyrifos. EPA decided against the ban but also stated that it would expedite the review of the pesticide.
Chris Novak, CropLife America (CLA) chief executive officer, noted that farmers rely on the availability of pesticides, like chlorpyrifos, to control a variety of insect pests, and public health officials use it in their work to control deadly and debilitating pests like mosquitos. To address these essential needs, CLA said it is encouraged that EPA has chosen to expedite the regulatory review.
Novak said this decision reinforces the integrity of the registration process, protection of consumers and the needs of farmers and health officials who rely on this vital tool. “Pesticide registrations involve extensive testing and complex scientific analysis that are the foundation for pesticide regulatory decisions. A thorough review process is integral to determining the safety of pesticides, which is why CLA supports increased funding that will help ensure EPA has adequate resources to continue its important work regulating pesticide use," he added.