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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General Donovan Challenges EPA Decision to Allow Toxic Pesticide on Food

August 9, 2019

Contact: Nicholas F. Persampieri, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3171


Lawsuit Follows AG’s 2017 Administrative Objections

Continuing to fight for safe food, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that his office joined five other states to file a lawsuit challenging an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to allow the continued use of the toxic pesticide Chlorpyrifos on foods.

“This is about safe food,” said Attorney General Donovan. “It’s simple: the EPA’s decision to allow this pesticide to be used on food crops ignores science and threatens the health of Vermonters – especially the health of our children and infants. I will continue to fight to ban Chlorpyrifos from foods.”

Chlorpyrifos is a toxic pesticide widely used on a variety of food crops including fruits and vegetables that are consumed by infants, young children, and pregnant women. The pesticide is well-documented to harm proper development and functioning of the central nervous system and brain. EPA’s own scientists have twice been unable to identify a safe level for the pesticide on food. Because of this, in November 2015 and again in November 2016, EPA issued proposed regulations to revoke all allowable levels – or “tolerances” – and no longer allow Chlorpyrifos to be used on food crops. In March 2017, then newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed course and issued an order which allowed Chlorpyrifos to remain on foods.

Vermont joined six other states in 2017 to file administrative objections to the EPA’s reversal of course on Chlorpyrifos. On July 18, 2019, the EPA issued an order denying the states’ objections. On August 7, 2019, Vermont joined California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Washington to file a Petition for Review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The petition asks the court to set aside EPA’s July 18, 2019 order and direct EPA to revoke all food tolerances for Chlorpyrifos. The petition contends that the Agency’s decision to leave the tolerances in place without determining that they are safe violates the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Last modified: August 9, 2019