The use of chlorpyrifos, a popular pesticide used on corn, cotton, wheat, sorghum and other crops, could possibly be restricted by the EPA.
The agency on Friday said it was considering revoking the chemical’s “tolerances,” which refers to the “maximum level of pesticide chemicals allowed in or on raw agricultural commodities and processed foods.”
This shift could affect farmers and ranchers as well as food companies and pesticide manufacturers.
Why the change? In the public document, the EPA said it was “unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos” met a certain federal safety standard.
However, the agency also said that it was reviewing the chemical to see if various uses could be considered safe.
“EPA’s finding … does not necessarily mean that no individual tolerance or group of tolerances could meet the FFDCA 408(b)(2) safety standard and be maintained,” the agency said. “EPA’s risk assessment supporting this proposed rule indicates that the primary source of risk comes from chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos oxon in drinking water in highly vulnerable watersheds (generally small watersheds where the land is agricultural and could be treated with chlorpyrifos (i.e., heavily cropped areas)). However, as explained in this proposed rule, some uses of chlorpyrifos do not by themselves present risks of concern from either food or drinking water and are only a concern when aggregated with all exposures to chlorpyrifos. EPA therefore invites comments that address whether some tolerances or groups of tolerances can be retained.”
The proposal will be open for public comment once it is published in the Federal Register.