Sep. 15, 2023
By DON JENKINS Capital Press
A pesticide maker and farm groups have asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to make the Environmental Protection Agency wait to see whether its ban on chlorpyrifos holds up before canceling products containing the chemical.
EPA appears poised to cancel labels for three chlorpyrifos products registered for use on food crops by Gharda Chemicals International, even though the circuit court has yet to rule on the ban’s legality.
If the EPA cancels the labels and the court later overturns the ban, reregistering products will cost more than $1 million and take three years, hurting Gharda and farmers, according to Gharda and the producer groups.
The EPA has yet to respond to the motion, but has previously rejected requests to wait for a court ruling.
The EPA late last month indicated it wanted to revoke Gharda’s labels soon, arguing canceling the labels was the next local step to enacting a ban.
Chlorpyrifos has been widely employed in food and non-food uses since 1965. Anti-pesticide groups petitioned the EPA in 2007 to prohibit chlorpyrifos, alleging that even small amounts of residue on food damaged the brains of infants and unborn children.
The Biden EPA, under pressure from an impatient 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the West Coast, finally banned chlorpyrifos under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 2022.
Gharda, the American Farm Bureau, National Association of Wheat Growers and 17 other farm groups sued in the Midwest’s 8th Circuit Court to overturn the ban. The court heard oral arguments last December, but has yet to rule.
Commercial farmers have been barred from applying chlorpyrifos for two growing seasons. Farm groups maintain that chlorpyrifos is still an important pesticide to confront a wide spectrum of pests.
Gharda and producer groups are seeking to reinstate the EPA’s finding during the Trump administration that chlorpyrifos could be used safely on 11 crops in select geographic regions.
The crops included apples in Washington, sugar beets in Idaho and strawberries in Oregon.
Gharda invested in manufacturing chlorpyrifos as other companies voluntarily withdrew chlorpyrifos products.
Gharda has stockpiles in India ready for U.S. distribution and a ban would be catastrophic to the company, according to a court declaration by Gharda President Ram Seethapathi.