The California Environmental Protection Agency announced today that virtually all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in California will end next year following an agreement between the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and pesticide manufacturers to withdraw their products.
“For years, environmental justice advocates have fought to get the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos out of our communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Thanks to their tenacity and the work of countless others, this will now occur faster than originally envisioned. This is a big win for children, workers and public health in California.”
“The swift end to the sale of chlorpyrifos protects vulnerable communities by taking a harmful pesticide off the market,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld. “This agreement avoids a protracted legal process while providing a clear timeline for California farmers as we look toward developing alternative pest management practices.”
Evidence that chlorpyrifos causes health effects in children
Earlier this year, DPR announced it was acting to ban use of chlorpyrifos by canceling the pesticide’s product registrations. The decision follows mounting evidence that chlorpyrifos is associated with serious health effects in children and other sensitive populations at lower levels of exposure than previously understood, including impaired brain and neurological development.
At the same time, DPR and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have established a cross-sector working group to identify, evaluate and recommend safer, more sustainable pest management alternatives to chlorpyrifos. It will hold its first meeting this month and will hold three public workshops beginning in January.
The agreement with Dow AgroSciences and other companies means that use of chlorpyrifos will end sooner than anticipated had the companies pursued administrative hearings and potential appeals process, which could have taken up to two years. Under the settlement, the companies agreed that:
• All sales of chlorpyrifos products to growers in California will end on Feb. 6, 2020.
• Growers will no longer be allowed to possess or use chlorpyrifos products in California after Dec. 31, 2020.
• Until then, all uses must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives.
However, not all reactions are this positive. California Citrus Mutual President Casey Creamer said Wednesday that state officials had begun to place so many restrictions on chlorpyrifos use that it was getting harder to use anyway. Creamer says he believes the pesticide can be applied to crops without harming anyone when various safety measures are strictly followed.
In announcing the ban, state environmental officials say $5 million is being budgeted to help growers and manufacturers develop safer alternatives to chlorpyrifos.
Creamer, however, says he appreciates that the state is willing to partner with farmers.