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Some Delaware farmers support EPA decision not to ban controversial insecticide

Delaware Public Media

The Environmental Protection Agency announced last week a decision not to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos despite petitions from public interest groups and an EPA proposal under the Obama administration to ban it.


President of the Delaware Farm Bureau and Greenwood-area farmer Richard Wilkins approves of the decision. He says Delaware corn, soybean and vegetable farmers use chlorpyrifos as a back-up when more targeted insecticides fail.


“It gives you another tool in the toolbox that you can switch to so that you can avoid developing resistance to the more preferable classes of insecticides,” he said. “The outbreak is so severe that your pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides aren’t doing satisfactory control, so then you go to your arsenal and break out the chlorpyrifos … so you can rescue, save your crop.”

But environmental groups including Earthjustice criticized the EPA’s decision, citing research showing chlorpyrifos poses risks to developing brains.

Maria Payan is a Sussex County resident and regional consultant with the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. “To me, the decision is disappointing,” she said. “It seems constantly like public health is taking a backseat.”

The EPA says it will continue to evaluate the potential risks posed by chlorpyrifos through its registration review of the pesticide by a deadline in 2022. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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