EPA Denies NGO Petition to Remove Chlorpyrifos from Market, Upholds Science

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied an NGO petition to remove the crop protection product, chlorpyrifos, from the market. Claims in the petition were based on unreliable information from epidemiological studies conducted by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) that reported outcomes that could not be replicated and are soundly contradicted by findings from other studies. EPA’s decision to deny the chlorpyrifos petition is a hopeful indication that EPA is recommitting to adherence to established requirements and guidelines relating to transparency, public process and scientific integrity. The crop protection industry is encouraged by EPA’s detailed rationale set forth in the denial order and supports EPA’s commitment to a thorough registration-review of chlorpyrifos.

“Farmers count on the continual advancement of crop protection technology to stay ahead of crop threats, and that advancement hinges on a predictable regulatory process,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA). “EPA heeded the concerns laid out by stakeholders, state regulators, trading partners and even USDA in the public record. Today’s decision reinforces the strength, objectivity and consistency of EPA’s pesticide registration and registration-review process.”

In a statement, Sheryl Kunickis, director of the Office of Pest Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said: “This is a welcome decision grounded in evidence and science…This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States. It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables.”

In November 2016, the EPA released documents to the federal docket regarding food-use tolerance revocations of chlorpyrifos. That proposed action followed a long review of chlorpyrifos that included three separate Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panels (SAPs), the first two held in 2008 and 2012, and the most recent this past April (see transcript). All three SAPs came to the same conclusion, questioning EPA’s shift to the use of certain epidemiological study outcomes rather than toxicological data in human health risk assessments. In particular, the SAPs cautioned EPA against using the study outcomes from CCCEH. EPA’s reengagement on the registration-review of chlorpyrifos will afford ample opportunity for all concerns to be properly considered.

“Modern farming depends on using the best science available,” stated Dr. Janet E. Collins, executive vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CLA. “The entire agricultural community, scientists included, are working tirelessly to refine growing methods, use resources more efficiently and better protect species and the environment. We applaud EPA for looking at allavailable data and denying the NGO petition on chlorpyrifos. We hope that this action signals a return to the Agency’s willingness to engage with farmers and industry to objectively regulate American agriculture to keep it productive and sustainable for generations to come.”

If you have ideas or concerns on how to move U.S. farming forward, get involved now with the conversation online with #FoodForward and #GiveaCrop. CLA actively engages with consumers, food bloggers, farmers, chefs, foodies, journalists and others interested in food production on social media, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram. For more information on how farmers use crop protection technology to grow healthy food, visit www.GiveaCrop.org.

Michael Leary