Six states, including California and New York, have sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos, alleging the agency did not adequately ensure infants and children are protected.
“Chlorpyrifos causes significant harm to our children, farm workers and vulnerable communities,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “California is doing our part to address the harms of this pesticide — it’s time for D.C. to do theirs.”
The states’ filing came the same day a coalition of environmental, farmworker and other groups sued EPA over the same decision.
Those groups include the League of United Latin American Citizens, Pesticide Action Network North America, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Farmworker Association of Florida, Farmworker Justice, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Hispanic Medical Association, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, and United Farm Workers.
Last month, EPA said it did not have enough evidence of the insecticide’s neurodevelopmental effects “that is sufficiently valid, complete, and reliable at this time” to justify revoking food tolerances.
The states, however, argue EPA did not comply with language in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requiring the agency to "ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue."
The Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America had petitioned EPA in 2007 to revoke food tolerances and cancel registrations for the product, marketed as Lorsban by Corteva Agriscience, which was banned for household use in 2001. EPA was ordered by the Ninth Circuit to respond, which it did last month.
However, “Rather than carrying its burden under FFDCA of finding that the tolerances for chlorpyrifos are safe, EPA … wrongly placed the burden on petitioners to furnish ‘valid, complete and reliable data that set forth why the tolerances are unsafe,’" the lawsuit said, quoting the order signed by Alexandra Dunn, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and published in the July 24 Federal Register.
The lawsuit says the order “disregards EPA’s statutory requirement to publish a safety determination of the pesticide residue for infants and children; continues EPA’s years-long pattern of delay in addressing the hazards of chlorpyrifos; and departs from EPA’s prior determination that it could not find chlorpyrifos safe.”
EPA said it does not comment on pending litigation. However, “In response to requests from the public, EPA confirmed in its July 18 action that it is expediting the agency’s review of chlorpyrifos, with a proposed interim decision incorporating the scientific assessments in question for public availability and comment by October 2020 — enabling EPA to make a final determination on chlorpyrifos well before the 2022 statutory deadline.
"Registration review is a comprehensive, scientific and transparent process that will further evaluate the potential effects of chlorpyrifos," the agency said. "EPA has also been engaged in discussions with the chlorpyrifos registrants that could result in further use limitations affecting the outcome of EPA’s assessment.”
Corteva AgriScience has pointed to approval of chlorpyrifos by regulatory bodies. When the European Food Safety Authority concluded recently there was “no safe exposure level can be set for the substance,” Corteva said, “We fundamentally disagree with the conclusions from EFSA. No active ingredient has been more thoroughly researched than chlorpyrifos and the EFSA conclusions do not match the conclusions of other major regulatory bodies, including the U.S. EPA, Australia-APVMA or the World Health Organization.”
EFSA said it “identified concerns about possible genotoxic effects as well as neurological effects during development, supported by epidemiological data indicating effects in children.”
Corteva did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this specific case.
The other states in the lawsuit EPA are Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts and Washington.
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