For the third year in a row, a number of Maryland delegates are sponsoring a bill that would ban the use of a pesticide that some argue causes harm to young children.

The General Assembly bill to ban chlorpyrifos was first read on Jan. 16 and would apply to insecticides with the chlorpyrifos in them as well as seeds that have been treated with it.

The bill would also require that the Department of Agriculture provide “integrated pest management” education and assistance to pesticide applicators, certified crop advisers and farmers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, integrated pest management is “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.”

Chlorpyrifos can be used for both agricultural and non-agricultural purposes.

Examples of agricultural uses include spraying row crops and fruit trees, while examples of nonagricultural uses include treating golf courses and turf.

Colby Ferguson, government relations director at the Maryland Farm Bureau, said the bill would be detrimental to farmers.

“It’s only used when we have to have it,” he said.

Ferguson also said chlorpyrifos use is already restricted federally and that banning it in the state could put Maryland farmers at a disadvantage when it comes to eliminating pests.

“This is a very specific tool in a farmer’s toolbox that not every farmer uses,” he said. “It’s very targeted.”

Ferguson also said the science behind the bill is based on an outdated study that was conducted before the pesticide was restricted, so its exposure to people was much greater at the time.

“Taking the tool out of the toolbox is not going to help Maryland [residents] because it’s not affecting them now, so all you’re doing is hurting the farmer,” he said.

In specific cases such as foliar spraying for vegetables, there are alternatives, but they tend to be much more expensive and less effective. And in the case of orchard owners who need to combat pests like the peachtree borer, Ferguson said there are no alternatives.

A similar bill was filed last year that made it to the state Senate and died in committee. In 2018, a chlorpyrifos ban bill was also introduced and later withdrawn.

The 2019 Fiscal and Policy Note stated that banning the use of the pesticide was “expected to have a meaningful impact on at least some small businesses in the State.”

There are conflicting findings as to the danger of the pesticide and specifically its toxicity to young children and women of childbearing age.

In August 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals told the EPA it had 60 days to ban chlorpyrifos after non-governmental organizations signed a petition to ban the pesticide in food use in 2007 and later filed a lawsuit against the EPA based on the delay in responding to the petition.

The ruling was effectively overturned by the Department of Justice in April 2019 and the EPA was told that it had 90 days to make a decision about banning the pesticide.

Hawaii, New York and California all have some type of chlorpyrifos ban.

If passed, the bill would take effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter:

@hannah_himes.

(2) comments

dancing donna

Chorpyrifos exposure was linked to changes in social behavior and brain development as well as developmental delays in young laboratory animals. Other studies showed that chlorpyrifos affected the nervous system of young mice, rats, and rabbits more severely than adult animals.

Researchers studied the blood of women who were exposed to chlorpyrifos and the blood of their children from birth for three years. Children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than children who did not have chlorpyrifos in their blood. Exposed children also had more attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity disorders.

We are the only species that will kill ourselves for the sake of agricultural and financial "advancement". Read Silent Spring. The author predicted it all and it has come to pass. Anyone that believes pesticides are not harmful to humans and animals are selling you a false bill of sale. Cancer statistics are rising more than ever. ADHD, Neurological Diseases of no "known" cause, skin problems of no known cause, chronic gut problems, etc. If theses toxins paralize and kill pests, why would humans be immune to effects of these poisons? What about the bees? We need to rethink what we are doing to our earth and ourselves.

MD1756

According to the article, Colby Ferguson, government relations director at the Maryland Farm Bureau said the science behind the bill is based on an outdated study that was conducted before the pesticide was restricted, so its exposure to people was much greater at the time.

He goes on to say "“Taking the tool out of the toolbox is not going to help Maryland [residents] because it’s not affecting them now, so all you’re doing is hurting the farmer,” he said...."

What proof does he have to make that unsubstantiated statement? I'll go with the studies before I go something some government relations director says. It is clear their interest lies with protecting the farmer rather than protecting the public.

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