An agreement between pesticide manufacturers and the California EPA will cut off sales of the insecticide chlorpyrifos on Feb. 6 and ban virtually all use of the chemical in the state after next Dec. 31. It offers a much speedier schedule for withdrawing the chemical from the market in the No. 1 agricultural state than initially expected.
Eleven environmental, labor, and medical groups filed suit in a U.S. appeals court in California on Wednesday to ban use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos. It was the second time the groups have sought to force the EPA to ban the widely used organophosphate pesticide.
California environmental regulators announced on Wednesday that the state will prohibit use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, a process that could take two years to complete. Even as California acted, the U.S. EPA was facing a court-imposed deadline of mid-July to decide on a federal ban of the pesticide.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco ordered the EPA to decide within 90 days — by mid-July — whether to ban agricultural use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, already barred from residential use. Environmental groups have campaigned for years to take the organophosphate pesticide out of use in the United States.
The member nations of the EU voted for a near-total ban of neonicotinoid insecticides, over the objections of farmers and pesticide manufacturers. Known as neonics, the chemicals are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world and have been linked by scientific studies to the decline in honeybees and other pollinators, said BBC News.
Research by the University of Saskatchewan provides “the first direct evidence that neonicotinoids can harm songbirds and their migration,” said the Guardian, by causing the birds to lose weight and their sense of direction.
A Trump administration appointee at EPA has taken an influential role in federal assessment of the risk posed by hazardous chemicals, "making it more aligned with the industry's wishes," reports the New York Times. The new approach includes the EPA decision in March to allow continued agriculture use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide criticized as a risk to children and farmworkers.
The EU voted to block two kinds of GMO crops, but weren’t able to get the “qualified majority” required to completely ban them. Instead, the vote has been kicked to the European Commission’s executive, President Jean-Claude Juncker, says Reuters.
The European Commission is considering draft regulations to ban the mostly widely used insecticides in fields across Europe in order to protect bees, according to documents obtained by The Guardian via the Pesticide Action Network Europe. A vote is expected this May; if passed the ban could take effect within months.
Public-health officials know that the insecticides that kill mosquitoes, in order to prevent Zika and other diseases, also are fatal to honeybees, butterflies and imperiled species, says Ensia in describing an emerging interest in minimizing environmental harm. "We're just at the beginning stages, trying to figure out what we need to focus on," said Patricia Bright, senior science adviser for the U.S. Geological Survey.