Upon reading the Feb. 24 article “Maryland Department of Agriculture announces phaseout of pesticide,” we were disappointed not to see any mention of the many shortcomings in MDA’s plan. As Marylanders and state legislators, we ultimately believe this proposal to “phase out” the highly toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos is not acceptable. MDA is simply not equipped financially or with expertise to develop and defend a regulation banning chlorpyrifos.
There would be serious flaws with any regulatory process led by MDA. Draft regulations could get stuck for months and years, and opponents could file lawsuits challenging the regulation. MDA’s potential “phase out” of some uses of chlorpyrifos would likely allow numerous delays, exemptions and loopholes, resulting in continued exposure to this toxic chemical.
The legislation that we introduced and have been working with other Maryland lawmakers to pass would provide certainty about when, where and how Maryland would finally ban chlorpyrifos. No regulatory attempt by MDA would provide such certainty or an immediate ban.
This is why we sponsored HB 229 and SB300, which would ban chlorpyrifos by law and ensure that this pesticide is removed from farms, produce and golf courses expeditiously. The rules, as a result of passing a Maryland law, would be clear and predictable and less vulnerable to legal challenges.
Chlorpyrifos must be fully banned as quickly as possible — it’s been five years since EPA scientists recommended a full, no-exemptions ban, after their 20-year risk assessment determined that there is no safe level of exposure or safe method of application for this brain-damaging pesticide linked to learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological and developmental impacts.
Sen. Clarence K. Lam and Del. Dana Stein