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MSGA joins chlorpyrifos appeal

In early October, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) signed on to an Amicus Curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case for the petition for review of an order of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding chlorpyrifos.

The appeal was in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in August against the EPA, which ordered the agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days. This decision was a 2-1 decision of the court and could have serious ramifications for Minnesota farmers. The ruling was not a draw-down, so to speak, of the use of the chemical but rather a hard stop. That would mean that a farmer would be unable to use any chemical that they may have on-hand. It would in effect leave the chemical without any legal use in the United States.

The lawsuit was started after action by the EPA on the chemical by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt. The EPA had been reviewing the chemical for some time. Dow voluntarily withdrew the chemical from use as an in-home insecticide in 2000. In 2012, the EPA established a buffer zone around areas such as schools. In October 2015, the Obama administration overseeing EPA proposed banning the chemical’s use on food items.

In a memo issued by nine EPA scientists they stated, “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of the prenatal exposure to chloroprifos.”

In 2017, EPA administrator Pruitt reversed the Obama EPA’s proposed ban on the chemical.

United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was pleased to hear the DOJ had requested a rehearing in front of the full panel (en banc) of 9th Circuit Court of Appeal judges.

“USDA disagrees with the court’s original ruling ordering EPA to revoke tolerances and cancel registrations for chlorpyrifos,” Perdue says. “Their decision appears to be based on a misunderstanding of both the available scientific information and EPA’s pesticide regulatory system.”

Chlorpyrifos, due to its efficacy and broad-spectrum activity across multiple pests, is used on more than 50 crops grown throughout the United States. For some crops and target pests, chlorpyrifos is the only line of defense, with no alternatives.

In Minnesota, a limited number of options exist to control soybean aphids.

“Removal of Chloropyrifos as an option could lead to a rapid buildup of insecticide resistance to pyrethroids and neonicotinoids,” says Jamie Beyer, Minnesota soybean grower and MSGA vice president. “MSGA joined onto this brief to ensure that the Court knows that this is an important tool in pest management in Minnesota. While we would rather not have to use the chemical, it is a vital part of the pest management landscape in Minnesota right now.”

The EPA is requesting review of the three judge panel to the full Ninth Circuit bench. The Court can approve the decision to immediately end the use, or could overrule the three judge panel and let the current use continue. The full court has other options as well including ordering the EPA to phase out the label for the chemical.

“We will continue to advocate for the safe use of this chemical until real alternatives are available that help us better control pests we face,” Beyer says.

Minnesota Soybean’s Director of Public Affairs Joe Smentek contributed to this report. 

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