The EU to implement prohibition on chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl 10-28-2019

On October 3, 2019, the European Commission informed the World Trade Organization of its decision to deny the application for the reassessment of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl for public use.

Chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl were approved and used in European countries under the old regulation of Directive 91/414/EEC. The application for reassessment is based on the new regulation of Regulation No 1107/2009. During the evaluation among EU members, a variety of problems related to Chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl remained unsolved. These problems were listed in a statement issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in August 2019. The statement gives the main reasons that the two substances are disqualified for applying the reassessment.

First, based on the former data, it cannot be proven that chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl do not contain potential genotoxicity; the dietary risk assessment cannot be implemented without a toxicological reference value.

Second, the current research data shows that chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl particularly affect the nervous system and cause developmental neurotoxicity in mice. Research from epidemiology also shows that children exposed to chlorpyrifos can suffer various neurodevelopmental effects, leading to several defects such as autism, memory loss, lower IQ, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Third, chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl are classified as reproductive toxicants category 1B under CLP, causing adverse effect on fetus development.

According to the regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, plant protection products on the market should not harm human health and the environment. Considering the result from the evaluation among EU members and the statement of EFSA, the application for reassessing chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl is disqualified.

The expiration date of the last assessment for chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl is to January 31, 2021, which means that products on the European market related to chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl will stop being sold and need to withdraw from the market before that date.

Hawaii, New York and California to also ban chlorpyrifos

In the United States, chlorpyrifos has been banned in household products since the year 2000, due to its harmful effects on the brain and central nervous system. In 2015, the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a complete ban on use of the herbicide within the country, but this proposal was withdrawn by Scott Pruitt, an EPA appointee of the Trump administration. In 2018, however, the state of Hawaii introduced a regulation prohibiting all use chlorpyrifos starting from January 2019, becoming the first state in the United States to impose an overall ban on the use of chlorpyrifos. Soon afterward, the state of New York also announced at the beginning of 2019 that chlorpyrifos will not be used after December 1, 2021. Additionally, California cancelled the registration of chlorpyrifos and imposed a ban on the use of chlorpyrifos in May of this year.

Chlorpyrifos was introduced to the agricultural market in 1965 and gained popularity for its potency against a wide variety of weed species. Chlorpyrifos became a vital part of agricultural production over several decades, and some areas continue to employ chlorpyrifos in removing weeds. However, in recent years, the use of chlorpyrifos has declined in the developed world, and only a few countries remain that widely use this herbicide. Currently, the most dominant consumers of chlorpyrifos are China, India, and Brazil.

For more information about China’s herbicides market, please have a look at our monthly newsletter Herbicides China News.

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