The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been ordered by the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a commonly used pesticide for various fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. The efforts made by various environmental and public health groups to ban this chemical has been at least 10 years in the making. 

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the law that regulates pesticide use, requires that EPA cease the use of any pesticide that is found to be a health hazard upon exposure to it. According to The Hill, EPA’s own research in 2016 proved that there is a link between chlorpyrifos and developmental and neurological disorders particularly in children and infants, and especially affecting the families of farm workers. 

Despite the law in place to keep harmful pesticides from being used, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt--under the administration of President Donald Trump--allowed the continued use the chlorpyrifos after a decision in March 2017. He argued that banning chlorpyrifos would hurt farmers, and he also cited other research that contradicted his own agency’s findings about the pesticide’s impact on human health.

The court ordered decision was handed down in a 2-1 vote, with Judge Ferdinand Fernandez arguing that the case should have gone to a lower court, and that the appeals court did not have jurisdiction over the issue at the time it was heard.

The court order requires EPA to revoke chlorpyrifos residue tolerances, in addition to all approvals for the use of chlorpyrifos within 60 days.

EPA is reviewing the decision.

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