The 9thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned former EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt’s March 2017 denial of a petition by environmental groups to ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops, Reuters is reporting.
The judges found the agency broke the law by continuing to allow the chemical to be used on fruits and vegetables despite solid science, including from EPA’s own scientists, showing it harms developing brains, the National Resources Defense Council reports.
In a 2-to-1 decision, the court ruled the EPA offered “no defense” of its decision to delay a ban on chlorpyrifos, which the court said violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, according to Huffington Post. The act governs pesticides and requires EPA to ban chemicals if they are proven to cause harm.
Chlorpyrifos is commonly sprayed on a wide range of common crops, including corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, according to the New Food Economy. It was created by Dow Chemical Company in the 1960s and is one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with the company selling about 5 million pounds domestically each year, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by the National Defense Council and a coalition of labor and health organizations represented by Earthjustice.
“This is a victory for parents everywhere who want to feed their kids fruits and veggies without fear it’s harming their brains or poisoning communities,” said Erik Olson, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Marisa Ordonia, an attorney with Earthjustice, said EPA scientists had concluded in 2016 that the pesticide was harmful to farmworkers and their children and could be dangerous to those eating the foods treated with the chemical, the Sacramento Bee reported. The EPA was in the process of banning the chemical when Trump took office and reversed course.
Hawaii became the first state to ban the chemical in June and legislation is pending in Congress to ban chlorpyrifos and similar pesticides nationwide.