EPA proposes ban of acephate-based pesticides used on fruits and vegetables

By Staff
3 Min Read

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to cancel nearly all uses of acephate-based pesticides, which are commonly used in fruit and vegetable production, to protect human health.

The cancellation would ban agricultural and non-agricultural uses of the chemical, except for non-food bearing tree injections, which the EPA says do not pose risks to humans or the environment.

The interim decision is based on public health risk and drinking water assessments published last year that recognized acephate as a significant contributor to certain dietary and neurological issues, including tremors, fatigue and nausea.

U.S. farmers have used the pesticide for decades as a cost-effective way to treat cotton and soybeans, as well as celery, lettuce, peppers and other fruits and vegetables, according to federal data compiled by Earthjustice

Acephate is one of 18 organophosphate insecticides going through the EPA’s standard regulation review process to evaluate safety, which occurs once every 15 years or so. EPA will release updated proposed guidance for many of these pesticides between 2024 and 2026. 

Acephate was banned by the European Union more than 20 years ago, though farmers in the U.S. still use the chemical to control aphids and other insects. The pesticide is a neurotoxicant and works by interfering with nerve cells, with research tying the chemical to intellectual disabilities in children.

Don Collins, a licensed agricultural consultant, said the loss of acephate would result in more spray applications from less effective pesticides, adversely affecting cotton and soybean production in the Mississippi Delta.

The removal of Acephate from our insecticide toolbox would be like sending a soldier off to battle without his rifle,” Collins said in a public comment submitted May 4.

The EPA is soliciting public comment on the proposal before issuing an interim decision for the next 60 days as of April 30. The agency noted it would be open to alternative mitigation options that could address “the identified risks to satisfy the standard for continued registration of the pesticide.” 

Alternate mitigation options would allow the EPA to put protections in place faster, it said, noting the cancellation process for pesticides can take up to five years.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *