A nationwide coalition of farmworker and community health groups, including the Farmworker Association of Florida, Thursday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to immediately ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, sold under the brand names Dursban and Lorsban, because it harms workers and their families.
To read the petition, go to http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/ChlorpyrifosFinalPetition.pdf
Jeannie Economos, pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator at the Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, said a class of pesticides known as chlorphyrifos is widely used in Florida agriculture on nursery plants and vegetable crops.
Economos said the EPA banned the pesticides, manufactured by Dow Chemical Co., for residential use over a decade ago after two studies in the Northeast linked it to developmental problems in children.
“Why are they allowed to use it on farms when it was banned for residential use?” Economos asked.
The EPA states the pesticide in use since 1965 is undergoing registration review, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides every 15 years. It is applied to corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli and cauliflower and other row crops and is also approved for use on golf courses, turf, greenhouses, utility poles and fence posts.
Click here https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/chlorpyrifos#actions to read what the EPA says about the pesticide.
Gregg Nuessly, professor of entomology and director, University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade, said that a ban of the product would have a detrimental impact on sweet corn growers. It is used to control silk flies, the most difficult pests that attack corn. Its larvae feed on the cob and kernels of the crop valued at $150 million annually in Florida alone.
“I firmly believe that it is critical for continued production of sweet corn in the EAA because of its high efficacy against the corn silk flies,” Nuessly said, adding that other products don’t do the job.
“Growers are required to follow strict regulations when applying all pesticides, including observing pre-harvest intervals and re-entry times after applications,” Nuessly said.
Erik Nicholson, UFW National vice president, said, “We are seeking an immediate and total chlorpyrifos ban because farmworkers have been overexposed even with all the protective clothing that could possibly be required. It’s nearly impossible for them to escape chlorpyrifos exposure because the poison is in the air they breathe, in the food they eat and in the soil where their children play.”
In December 2014 the EPA found that workers face unacceptable risks of acute poisonings from hundreds of activities involving chlorpyrifos. In 2015 EPA entered into negotiations with the pesticide industry to stop these uses or reduce exposures, but the negotiations broke down.
EPA told a court that regulatory action would be necessary, but more than a year has passed and EPA has failed to take regulatory action.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that originates from nerve gases the Nazis developed during World War II. The pesticide inhibits the body’s ability to produce cholinesterase, an enzyme necessary for the proper transmission of nerve impulses.
The EPA reports that physicians diagnose 10,000 to 20,000 pesticide poisonings each year among the approximately 2 million U.S. agricultural workers. However, it is believed that many more pesticide poisonings go unreported, the group said.
Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed the petition on behalf of United Farm Workers, League of United Latin American Citizens, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Hispanic Medical Association, Farmworker Association of Florida, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Migrant Clinicians Network, Learning Disabilities Association of America, GreenLatinos, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.