U.S. EPA Proposes to Revoke Food Residue Tolerances for Chlorpyrifos

Oranges are one of dozens of crops on which chlorpyrifos is used. Photo credit: Flickr user Anita Ritenour, Creative Commons license

Oranges are one of dozens of crops on which chlorpyrifos is used. Photo credit: Flickr user
Anita Ritenour, Creative Commons license

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to revoke all food residue tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. At this time, EPA said it is unable to make a safety finding as required under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).


Based on EPA’s current analysis, there do not appear to be risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos from food, but, when that exposure is combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, EPA cannot conclude that the risk from the potential aggregate exposure meets the FFDCA safety standard.

Read a pre-publication version of the proposed tolerance revocation rule.

EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. To submit comments, go to docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653 at www.regulations.gov.

Industry Responds

CropLife America (CLA) said is disappointed at EPA’s proposal, and in proposing this action, “EPA has ignored the thousands of scientific studies that have examined and validated the product’s safe use and agricultural importance. Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely-tested products across the world and is an invaluable tool for growers on a diverse array of crops.”

CLA said that following an “unwarranted petition” seeking these revocations, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court denied a request from EPA to extend its deadline to make a revocation decision to Apr. 15, 2016. The court instead forced EPA to respond by Oct. 31, 2015, before EPA had an opportunity to complete its drinking water risk assessment.

“It is unfortunate that court-mandated deadlines helped result in the Agency’s proposal to revoke food residue tolerances for a beneficial and wide-reaching crop protection product,” commented Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA.

Dow AgroSciences said it disagrees with EPA’s proposal, and “remains confident that all U.S. tolerance issues relating to the continued use of chlorpyrifos can be readily resolved with a more refined analysis of data.”

EPA has said that it will not decide whether or not to act on its proposal to revoke tolerances until it has received and responded to input from interested stakeholders, including growers who rely on chlorpyrifos-containing products to protect their crops and livelihood from destructive insect pests. As written, EPA’s proposal would not affect the 2016 growing season, Dow said.

The California Department of Pesticide  Regulation (DPR) said it has been anticipating for a while that EPA would propose a limit or ban on the use of chlorpyrifos on agricultural crops. The insecticide is widely used to control pests which threaten more than 60 different crops in California, including almonds, alfalfa walnuts, oranges, cotton and grape.

Although the use of chlorpyrifos has been decreasing over the last ten years (2004-2013), between one and two million pounds of chlorpyrifos has been applied each year in California.

DPR Director Brian Leahy believes that California growers should be using alternatives to this organophosphate pesticide wherever possible. Under his leadership, the department has in recent years, been putting significant restrictions and controls on the use of this pesticide to protect human health and the environment. “Today’s proposal from the EPA is not definitive, but it underscores this need,” the state’s DPR said.

California DPR believes that a revocation of food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos is unlikely to take effect until at least December 2016. DPR will continue its process to develop further restrictions for California that will help to mitigate the human health risks of chlorpyrifos until that time, it added.