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US growers oppose proposed pesticide ban

California citrus growers have dubbed a US government proposal to ban common pesticide chlorpyrifos "unfair"

US growers oppose proposed pesticide ban

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California's agricultural industry is opposing a proposed ban on a common pesticide used on fruits and vegetables, reports The Associated Press.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday (30 October) proposed the ban of chlorpyrifos, a widely used insecticide that is sprayed on a variety of crops including oranges, apples, cherries, grapes, broccoli and asparagus, due to health and environmental concerns.

But California Citrus Mutual, which represents citrus producers, is against the ban, arguing that the misuse of the pesticide by some groups should not lead to widespread limits.

Joel Nelson, president of the California Citrus Mutual, said regulators in his state want to apply a "broad-brush approach" that he called unfair. Alternative pesticides exist, but Nelson said they're not as effective and are more expensive. 

US farms use more than 6m lb of chlorpyrifos each year - about 25 per cent of it in California, according to The Associated Press. But the pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years, the report said. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and regulators say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide.

The EPA said it will take public comments on the proposal for at least two months, with a final rule expected in December 2016. The rule would not take effect until 2017 at the earliest.

The EPA said in a written statement that its current analysis does not suggest risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food. But when those exposures are combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, "EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act safety standard," the statement said.


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