EPA must respond to chlorpyrifos petition by end of 2016, court says

By Stephen Davies

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2015 - EPA has been ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to respond by the end of 2016 to a petition seeking a total ban on uses of the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

The agency has already proposed to revoke all food tolerances for the product. But it has yet to respond to a 2007 petition requesting revocation of the registrations.

In a one-page order issued today that followed a strongly worded opinion issued in August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco gave the agency until Dec. 30, 2016, to respond to a petition seeking a ban. The court also ordered EPA to issue a final rule by that date on its Oct. 30 proposal to revoke all food tolerances for the insecticide.

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In October, EPA said it was proposing to revoke the tolerances “based on the science as it stands.” In a news release, the agency said it was unable to make a safety finding as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) due to exposure to drinking water in certain watersheds.” EPA also said it planned to issue a final rule by Dec. 30, 2016 - a deadline formalized by the court in its order today.

But the Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council continued to press for a response to their 2007 petition, which called for both a ban on food tolerances and cancellation of all registrations for the insecticide.

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In today's order, the Ninth Circuit said EPA must file an interim status report on its progress by June 30, 2016.

After the August opinion was issued, chlorpyrifos registrant Dow AgroSciences said it remains “confident in the extensive health, safety and environmental data supporting chlorpyrifos products. Recognizing the importance of chlorpyrifos to both our customers and to U.S. agriculture, we will continue to support EPA's ongoing registration review of chlorpyrifos with state-of-the-art data for high quality regulatory assessments.”

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