U.S. to ban use of pesticide chlorpyrifos on food crops over health concerns

Headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

CHICAGO, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said it will ban the use on food crops of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to health problems in children.

The decision is a victory for environmental activists who have fought to stop the use of the chemical that is applied to crops ranging from corn and soybeans to Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

"EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. "Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide."

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Chlorpyrifos has been used as a pesticide since 1965 on farms and in non-agricultural areas such as golf courses, according to the EPA. However, applications have declined due to state restrictions, reduced production and the development of alternative products, the agency said.

The EPA banned the use of chlorpyrifos in 2015 under President Barack Obama after the agency decided it could not be certain whether exposure to the chemical in food and water would be harmful. But President Donald Trump's EPA reversed the decision and said there was not enough evidence to link exposure to chlorpyrifos to children's health issues.

"EPA is finally following its own findings on this poisonous pesticide," said Allison Johnson, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Last year, California prohibited farmers from using chlorpyrifos products and manufacturers from selling them due to health concerns.

Corteva Inc (CTVA.N), the world's largest manufacturer of the chemical, in 2020 said it would stop producing chlorpyrifos because of declining sales.

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Reporting by Tom Polansek, Editing by Franklin Paul and Grant McCool

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