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What Will Banned Pesticide Mean For MN Ag Producers?

Chlorpyrifos, a widely used corn herbicide in Minnesota has been banned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (
Chlorpyrifos, a widely used corn herbicide in Minnesota has been banned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (
August 13, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Midwest farmers and other users of the pesticide chlorpyrifos can continue applying the chemical to crops for the next two months, when the Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered to ban its use.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last week that use of the pesticide must end, because studies show it can harm the brains of children. Willa Childress with the Minneapolis office of Pesticide Action Network said studies show children exposed to chlorpyrifos suffer from reduced IQ, attention deficit disorder and delayed motor development that can last into adulthood.

“The 9th Court of Appeals is really upholding the law to protect kids from a pesticide that harms their developing brains,” Childress said. “The EPA determined that infants were being exposed to chlorpyrifos at levels 140 times that that could be considered safe.”

Growers say the pesticide has been an important tool to effectively manage or eliminate pests from a variety of crops. Minnesota, eastern North Dakota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska have some of the highest use rates of the pesticide in the country.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the court's decision.

A lawsuit over the pesticide has lingered since 2007, even though the EPA's own internal studies confirmed serious safety risks associated with its use. A ban was proposed under the Obama administration, but former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not enact it.

Marissa Ordonia is an attorney with Earthjustice, a Seattle group that brought the court case. She said the pesticide should have been banned a decade ago.

“For our part, we're going to make sure that they are going to get this off of our food as soon as possible,” Ordonia said. “It's acutely toxic, it can cause respiratory distress, dizziness, there are poisoning incidences amongst farm workers and people in farm communities when the pesticide becomes airborne and drifts."

The pesticide was banned for residential use by the EPA roughly 17 years ago. It was initially developed as a nerve gas during World War II.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN