California banned a pesticide from your food. Now it won’t be manufactured

USA: Ennvironment: Imperial Valley California Air Quality
Chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, almonds and other crops, has been linked to childhood development maladies and nervous-system damage. 
(Sandy Huffaker / Corbis/Getty Images)

The primary manufacturer of a pesticide banned by California and the European Union said it will no longer produce the chemical.

Corteva, formerly Dow Agrosciences, said Thursday — the day the pesticide’s sales were officially halted in the state — that it will end production of chlorpyrifos by the end of this year.

The move comes as the market for the chemical, which has been linked to developmental disorders, shrinks rapidly — the European Union followed California’s lead in banning it, as has New York.

“Due to this reduced demand, Corteva has made the strategic business decision to phase out our production of chlorpyrifos in 2020,” the company said in a statement. “Our customers will have access to enough chlorpyrifos supply to cover current demand through the end of the year, while they transition to other products or other providers. Our customers, shareholders and employees will benefit by redeploying our resources.”


Last year, the Trump administration stepped back from previous efforts to ban the chemical, saying it would delay any decision until at least 2022.

Environmental and farm-labor groups hailed the decision and vowed to press for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to ban its use.

“From agricultural fields to the meals that reach our tables, chlorpyrifos poisons farm workers and threatens the healthy development and intellectual potential of children across the nation,” said Diana Tellefson Torres, executive director of UFW Foundation.

“The science, policy and public pushback all aligned around this chemical being too dangerous for use on our food and in our fields, making today’s announcement an eventual forgone conclusion,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We will be watching the manufacturer’s statements to ensure that the sunset of chlorpyrifos is as quick and as complete as possible.”

California has been the biggest user of the organophosphate compound, spreading 900,000 pounds of it on almonds, grapes, citrus, alfalfa, stone fruit, cotton and other crops in 2017, according to state data. The state has created a working group to identify alternatives to the pesticide.

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