agriculture, Environment

State ag commissioner Troxler “pleased” with EPA’s ruling to allow brain-damaging pesticide on crops

Pass the strawberries, hold the pesticides. (Photo: Creative Commons)

W arhawk, Hatchet, Eraser and Vulcan: The pesticide chlorpyrifos is sold under many lurid, yet apt brand names. Known to harm a child’s developing brain, the chemical is nonetheless sprayed on golf courses, fruit trees and vegetable crops throughout the U.S. — including North Carolina..

Other than golfers, such as President Trump, farmworkers and children are especially at risk of exposure either through the air, dust or drinking water. Depending on the level of exposure, chlorpyrifos can lower IQ, harm memory and increase incidences of ADHD.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt last week swept aside the scientific concerns from his own agency and ruled that farmers can spray the chemical while more research is conducted. However, research on chlorpyrifos has been ongoing for at least the past 17 years. Under the Obama administration, the EPA’s own scientists recommended banning these products from agricultural use because of the health effects; these pesticides have been off-limits for most home applications since 2000.

Heather Overton, a spokeswoman for the NC Department of Agriculture, told NCPW that Commissioner Steve Troxler, a Republican stance is that this is an important pesticide for many crops and he is pleased with the EPA ruling.”

It’s unknown how much chlorpyrifos is used in North Carolina because the state pesticide board does not require reporting on its use — or any other insecticide. (Commercial pesticide users must be licensed and that all pesticides be registered and legal in North Carolina.) However, chlorpyrifos would likely be used on row crops such as strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and corn. It can be used on apple trees and grapevines — although in 2000, the EPA restricted its use on fruit-bearing plants.

The North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association also supports chlorpyrifos for controlling Japanese beetles and imported fire ants, and allowing plants to be shipped across state lines. Fire ants and Japanese beetles are both invasive species, which arrived in the U.S. — wait for it — by hitchhiking on international shipments.

Dow Agrosciences is a primary manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, which has been used in the U.S. for 52 years. (The chemical manufacturer hosts a website “Chlorpyrifos Protects” that extols its magical powers.) But over time, the EPA has chipped away at the pesticide. In 2000, the agency banned the pesticide for indoor use except in child-resistant bait containers and fire ant mound treatments. That same year, the EPA prohibited its use on tomatoes and further restricted applications on grapes and apples, citrus and tree nuts.

In 2012, the EPA significantly lowered application rates for chlorpyrifos and created no-spray buffer zones around public spaces, such as parks, and near homes. Had Pruitt abided by the Obama-era rule

2 Comments


  1. Louie

    April 3, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Is Steve Troxler concerned about Polonium 210 that has been used in fertilizers used to grow tobacco in North Careolina for decades? What an amoral and venal man.

  2. Joseph Yow

    April 4, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    What the Hell? Steve Troxler, I voted for you because I thought you would make reasoned, mature choices about what is good for the health and safety of the people affected by the agriculture practices in this state. I am so disappointed in you. I will not vote for you in the future and I will work with any group opposing your short-sighted, “Trump-sighted” decisions. I am so disappointed in you.

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