The court noted that the EPA failed to consider “its own proposal to keep a set of high-benefit uses in place.”
Chlorpyrifos, also known as Chlorpyrifos ethyl, is an organophosphate pesticide that is applied to crops and animals to kill several a variety of insects and worms. It has been used in the U.S. since 1965 to help control a variety of pests on alfalfa, citrus, soybeans, peaches, pecans, tree nuts, and fruit and vegetable crops.
In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency rushed to judgment and banned the insecticide. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned the ban, asserting the agency’s humanity-hating decision was rushed and needs to be reviewed.
In a win for farmers and pesticide makers, a federal appeals court has reopened the door for use of the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos on food crops in some US states.
A Nov. 2 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit nixes a 2021 rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency banning the neurotoxic insecticide on food. The court ruling also orders the EPA to reevaluate whether chlorpyrifos can be safely used on crops like sugar beets, soybeans, and certain fruits and vegetables.
In its opinion, the court notes that the EPA failed to consider “its own proposal to keep a set of high-benefit uses in place.” The EPA was under a short court-ordered deadline to make a decision about whether to cancel all uses of chlorpyrifos on food or show that anticipated uses are safe. The agency zeroed in on a single solution—banning all uses of chlorpyrifos on food—rather than considering whether the pesticide could be safely used on a few select crops, the court ruled.
Yes, having a steady supply of food and healthy livestock is a high benefit . . . to anyone who values humanity.
Of course, some states have their own ban on the pesticide. The restriction on use of chlorpyrifos in Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Oregon remain.
The ruling is a rare instance in which a court seems to understand that sound science has to be the underpinning of good policy and sensible regulations, especially those related to the critically important area of agriculture.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said the decision sends a message that EPA must use sound science when drafting rules.
“AFBF appreciates the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for recognizing that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to follow the law when it revoked the use of chlorpyrifos,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Farmers and ranchers are committed to growing safe and nutritious food, and they use science to guide decisions on how to manage pests and insects.”
This ruling could lead to growers having the pesticide back for the 2024 growing season.
“The federal court’s ruling will restore a tool needed by many Texas farmers,” Jay Bragg, TFB associate director of Commodity and Regulatory Activities, said.
In its ruling, the Court recognized the historical importance of chloropyrifos, as well as its historic safety track record.
In lifting the ban, the Eighth Circuit panel recalled that “Chlorpyrifos has played a large role in American agriculture for more than half a century.”
By 2017, just four years before the EPA banned its use, the ruling says “it was the most widely used conventional insecticide in the country… Its popularity was unparalleled because it stops harmful insects like caterpillars, beetles, and moths in their tracks without damaging crops.”
…The 8th Circuit decision also pointed out chlorpyrifos safety record.
“Before the EPA’s 2021 ban, agricultural use of chlorpyrifos had survived multiple safety reviews. In 2002, for example, the EPA concluded that ‘dietary exposures from eating food crops treated with chlorpyrifos [were] below the level of concern for the entire U.S. population; the same went for drinking-water levels, which were not a “concern.” …Then, a few years later, the agency reaffirmed that existing tolerances met “the [tenfold] safety standard.”
It is good to see at least one of our courts understands real science is different than narrative science. Hopefully, Congress will continue to find ways to rein in the regulatory behemoth it has allowed to run wild for the past few decades.DONATE
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