Ohio farmers who use a controversial pesticide on their corn, soybeans and other crops will need to find another product next year after the manufacturer announced it will end production in 2020 because of declining sales. The decision by Corteva to quit making chlorpyrifos comes after California banned the pesticide effective this year.
The advocacy group Earthjustice has pushed the Environmental Protection Agency to support the product's ban. Earthjustice attorney Marisa Ordonia said its use has been linked to brain damage and other health defects in children.
"I think what it sends a signal of is that people don't want this. They don't want it on their food and they're responding to that," Ordonia said. "You know, if their sales have declined, I think that tells us something."
Earthjustice said it wants other U.S. manufacturers to stop making the pesticide, which has been banned in Germany and Sweden, among other countries.The World Health Organization considers chlorpyrifos "moderately hazardous" to humans based on its acute toxicity. But exposure beyond recommended levels has been linked to neurological effects, along with developmental and autoimmune disorders.
Ordonia said there's also evidence it can harm water and wildlife.
"One of the things about the way that chlorpyrifos works is that it affects the nervous system of anything, so not just the pests that it's designed to kill but also people, which is why it's so dangerous," she said.
The United States banned most home uses of chlorpyrifos in 2001, but not agricultural use. The EPA has resisted removing the product from the market, saying additional safety tests are needed. Corteva said it will continue to back the pesticide during the EPA's review.