The US Environmental Protection Agency announced on Friday a proposal to ban a common pesticide called chlorpyrifos which is commonly used for fruits, almonds and other crops.
The pesticide has been used for several decades, but it has been found in waterways and poses a threat to wildlife.
Regulators also pointed out that overuse of chlorpyrifos could make insects immune to the pesticide.
In a written statement the EPA said that current research suggests that there are no risks of exposure to chlorpyrifos in food. However, when combines with exposure from drinking water the agency “cannot conclude that the risk from the aggregate exposure meets the Federal Good, Drug and Cosmetic Act safety standard.”
Farms in the US use more than 6 million pounds of the pesticide on an annual basis, with about a quarter of it used in California.
“We’ve known for years that chlorpyrifos is dangerous and that’s why we sued EPA,” said Veena Singla, a health program scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The agency’s announcement today is a huge step in the right direction, but we think there’s enough evidence to ban all its uses now.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups filed a lawsuit to ban the pesticide, citing its possible affects on brain development in fetuses, infants and children.
However, the American Farm Bureau Federation, doesn’t expected the rule to succeed.
“We haven’t looked at it closely but don’t expect it will succeed, especially given that the rule is coming from a court order, rather than something EPA scientists have determined needs to be done,” said William Rodger, a spokesman for the federation. “Chlorpyrifos is an important crop protection method we don’t want to lose unless we absolutely must. We haven’t seen any evidence to that effect so far.”