U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to request a rehearing of a pesticide case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. DOJ has asked for a panel rehearing and a rehearing en banc in a case in which the court directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos, a common and useful pesticide, within 60 days.
Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:
“USDA disagrees with the ruling ordering EPA to revoke tolerances and cancel registrations for chlorpyrifos. The decision appears to be based on a misunderstanding of both the available scientific information and EPA’s pesticide regulatory system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other groups have pointed out significant flaws in the draft chlorpyrifos assessments on which the court based its opinion, and USDA supports EPA’s conclusion that the available scientific evidence does not indicate the need for a total ban on the use of chlorpyrifos. EPA should be allowed to continue its ongoing science-based and expert-led evaluation of chlorpyrifos, which is part of EPA’s registration review program that covers all pesticides.
“The costs of an incorrect decision on chlorpyrifos are expected to be high and would cause serious impacts to American farmers working to feed, fuel, and clothe the United States and the world. This ruling, which would mean the sudden and total loss of chlorpyrifos, prevents farmers from using an effective and economical crop protection tool. Chlorpyrifos is used on well over 50 crops grown throughout the United States due to its efficacy and broad-spectrum activity across multiple pests. For some crops and target pests, chlorpyrifos is the only line of defense, with no viable alternatives.
“Chlorpyrifos helps farmers and consumers by improving production efficiency and contributing to public health and safety. The arbitrary, immediate, and total loss of this crop protection tool endangers agricultural industries and is expected to have wide economic impacts. Given the court’s incorrect assessment of the scientific evidence, we thank the Department of Justice for continuing to fight on behalf of American farmers and consumers in support of science-based regulatory oversight of crucial crop protection tools.”
In August, a court ordered the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos due to its association with "developmental disabilities and other health problems in children," according to the New York Times. In March 2017, the EPA pushed back against calls from environmental groups to ban the pesticide.
At that time, Scott Pruitt was still the head of the EPA. When he resigned, he was succeeded by Andrew Wheeler. Both are appointees of president Donald Trump. Like Pruitt and Wheeler, Secretary Perdue is a Trump appointee.
In greenhouses, chlorpyrifos can be used on most ornamental crops to combat aphids, in addition to other pest management-related uses.
Photo courtesy of the USDA