EPA Says It Will Allow Continued Sale Of Controversial Pesticide

Mar 30, 2017
Originally published on March 30, 2017 7:29 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Environmental Protection Agency says it's going to allow a controversial pesticide to stay on the market. That's a change from just a few months ago, during the Obama administration, when the EPA declared that this pesticide could pose risks to consumers and should be banned. NPR's Dan Charles has the story.

DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: The pesticide is called chlorpyrifos. The EPA banned its use indoors to kill household insects 15 years ago. But it's widely used on vegetable crops. And a decade ago, the EPA approved that use, saying chlorpyrifos residues on food were not a risk to human health. Environmental groups challenged that decision. They pointed to studies of women and children from the days when chlorpyrifos was used indoors, which showed that the chemical could damage the brains of young children. Here's Patti Goldman from the group Earthjustice.

PATTI GOLDMAN: This pesticide just has to go.

CHARLES: These groups went to court demanding that the EPA take another look. And the Obama administration decided the chemical was risky and proposed a ban. Others though, like Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association, came to the pesticide's defense.

WESLEY SPURLOCK: It's a good chemical that's been awfully safe and reliable.

CHARLES: A federal court ordered the EPA to make a final decision by the end of this week, which left it in the hands of the new administration. And the EPA's new leadership says there is still scientific uncertainty about the true risks and it will continue to study the chemical. It won't proceed with a ban. Environmental groups say they'll fight this decision in court.

Dan Charles, NPR News.

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