Friends of the Earth call for a dangerous pesticide to be banned

Friends of the Earth (FoE) is demanding a UK ban on the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, after recent revelations that the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) have recommended that the use of the chemical in garden products be revoked.

FoE also points out that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a ban in June on the use of chlorpyrifos in domestic products and restrictions on farming use. A third nail in the chemical’s coffin is the fact that in 1998 a man in Ireland was killed using the pesticide – which acts on the nervous system – after applying the chemical without using gloves, according to FoE.

“Highly toxic chemicals like chlorpyrifos have no place in modern food production or in our homes,” said Sandra Bell, FoE Real Food Campaigner. “The Government must follow the ACP’s advice to ban the use of chlorpyrifos in home and garden products. And, to ensure that children’s health is not being put at risk from this pesticide, they should go further and revoke its use in agriculture too.”

According to the minutes from an ACP meeting on 6 July, when the Committee met to discuss the move by the EPA, the evidence underpinning the proposed additional daily intake of chlorpyrifos was not as strong as it would like to see.

Following consideration of human safety data, the Chairman of the ACP, Professor Coggon, was recently reported as saying that the Committee had recommended urgent additional research studies to provide Committee members with the level of evidence required by modern standards. The Pesticides Safety Directorate has also been urged to bring the Committee’s views to the attention of other EU Member States as part of the current EU review of plant protection products containing chlorpyrifos.

The Committee recommended that the amateur home-garden uses of chlorpyrifos should be revoked because sufficient data on the effect of exposure to of users had not been provided.

It was also agreed that the Chairman would meet with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to communicate the views of the Committee. The Committee recommended to Ministers that agricultural uses should continue whilst the following was obtained:

  • information on the pattern of usage and work rates for contractors and farm operators;
  • a four week study measuring the effect of the pesticide on dogs.

“The Committee, however, is satisfied that there is no evidence for concern about short term, or acute, exposures to chlorpyrifos in the UK,” said Coggon. “The Committee was therefore content that no immediate action against chlorpyrifos was indicated at this stage. Nevertheless it would wish to consider the new research within a year.”

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, ministers are currently considering the ACP’s recommendations.

On 8 June this year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the latest stage of their review of chlorpyrifos. The EPA had announced that the company responsible for chlorpyrifos had agreed to withdraw some products from the market, most of which are related to treatment of buildings against termites and other household pests. The impact on agricultural uses is to be limited to tomatoes, apples and grapes, and it is proposed that the use on tomatoes in the USA is to be revoked and that the residue levels allowed on apples and grapes are to be reduced.

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