As reported by The New York Times, the United States has announced that it will ban the use of chlorpyrifos in food because of its link to the development of neurological damage in children. This pesticide has been widely used since 1965 on fruits and vegetables and its use has already been banned in the European Union because of the threat it poses to human health.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that it will publish a regulation to ban its use. This new rule, which will take effect in six months, follows an order issued in April by the Ninth District Court of Appeals, which ordered the EPA to suspend agricultural use of the chemical unless it could demonstrate its safety, the media reports.
Labor and environmental advocacy groups estimate that the decision will lead to chlorpyrifos use in the country dropping by more than 90%.
In an unusual move, the new chlorpyrifos policy will not be implemented through the standard regulatory process, under which the EPA first publishes a draft rule and then receives public comment before publishing the final version. Instead, in compliance with the court order, which says that the science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage is more than a decade old, the rule will be published in its final form, with no draft and no public comment period.
"Today the Environmental Protection Agency is taking an overdue step to protect public health," said the agency's director, Michael S. Regan, adding that 'ending the use of chlorpyrifos in food will help ensure that children, farm workers and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide."
Several studies have shown that exposure to the pesticide is linked to lower birth weight, reduced IQ and other developmental problems in children. Studies have attributed some of these health effects to prenatal pesticide exposure.