Here’s how the state’s ban on this pes­ti­cide will im­pact lo­cal grow­ers

The Tribune (SLO) - - Local - BY LINDSEY HOLDEN AND DALE KASLER [email protected]­bune­ [email protected] Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lind­seymholden

A Cal­i­for­nia-wide ban of a pes­ti­cide linked to neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems will im­pact some San Luis Obispo County grow­ers — although its use has de­clined in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to agri­cul­ture of­fi­cials.

Gov. Gavin New­som’s ad­min­is­tra­tion on Wed­nes­day an­nounced plans to to ban chlor­pyri­fos, a pes­ti­cide sold com­mer­cially as Lors­ban, among other brand names.

“We’re say­ing, ‘Enough is enough.’ We can’t wait for the fed­eral govern­ment, which has been very slow and has kind of flip-flopped,” Jared Blumenfeld, sec­re­tary of the Cal­i­for­nia En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, said in an in­ter­view.

The de­ci­sion is a sig­nif­i­cant re­buke to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency un­der Trump has been de­fend­ing the chem­i­cal against court chal­lenges after the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion took steps to pro­hibit its use.

Chlor­pyri­fos, de­vel­oped by Dow Chem­i­cal in the 1960s as an al­ter­na­tive to DDT, has been banned for res­i­den­tial use na­tion­wide since 2001. The prod­uct has been linked to neu­ro­log­i­cal prob­lems among farm­work­ers and their chil­dren.

“A lot of peo­ple live close to fields. Schools are close to fields,” said Blumenfeld, who worked for the fed­eral EPA un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. “This ac­tu­ally re­duces the IQ of Cal­i­for­ni­ans.”


Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials have tight­ened reg­u­la­tions for chlor­pyri­fos, and its us­age has fallen statewide.

Farm­ers through­out the state ap­plied about 900,000 pounds of chlor­pyri­fos in 2016 — the lat­est year statewide data is avail­able — down from nearly 2 mil­lion pounds in 2005, ac­cord­ing to the state De­part­ment of Pes­ti­cide Reg­u­la­tion.

Chlor­pyri­fos-based pes­ti­cide use has de­clined greatly in San Luis Obispo County since 2006, due pri­mar­ily to Cen­tral Coast Wa­ter Qual­ity Con­trol Board re­stric­tions, The Tri­bune re­ported in Septem­ber.

The agency be­gan re­quir­ing ad­di­tional mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing for com­mer­cial grow­ers after chlor­pyri­fos lev­els ex­ceeded those safe for aquatic life in Ar­royo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Oso Flaco creeks, ac­cord­ing to a wa­ter board state­ment.

Although the chlor­pyri­fos lev­els were toxic to aquatic in­sects, they weren’t high enough to af­fect hu­mans, the state­ment said.

San Luis Obispo County De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture pes­ti­cide use data ob­tained by The Tri­bune in Septem­ber showed some grow­ers have con­tin­ued to use chlor­pyri­fos dur­ing the last two years to con­trol pests from Cayu­cos to Nipomo.

In 2017, chlor­pyri­fos prod­ucts were used to treat 311.5 acres of crops. That num­ber dropped to 55.5 acres in 2018, ac­cord­ing to Martin Set­teven­demie, county agri­cul­tural com­mis­sioner.

This year, 15 acres have been treated with chlor­pyri­fos-based pes­ti­cides to date, Set­teven­demie said.

“It’s very much go­ing down over time,” he said.

San Luis Obispo County grow­ers have used the pes­ti­cide pri­mar­ily in cit­rus groves, although they also ap­plied chlor­pyri­fos to peas, straw­ber­ries and wine grapes.

Grow­ers have be­gun look­ing for al­ter­na­tives to the sub­stance for some time, and the ban will likely have a min­i­mal ef­fect on San Luis Obispo County agri­cul­ture, Set­teven­demie said.

The ban won’t ac­tu­ally be fi­nal­ized for up to two years. Farm­ers can still use chlor­pyri­fos dur­ing the in­terim pe­riod but won’t be able to em­ploy aerial spray­ing and must ac­cept other re­stric­tions.

New­som’s bud­get re­vi­sion plan, to be un­veiled in full Thurs­day, will in­clude $5.7 mil­lion to study al­ter­na­tive pest­man­age­ment meth­ods and pro­vide fur­ther as­sis­tance to farm­ers as they tran­si­tion away from chlor­pyri­fos.

“We’re lis­ten­ing to agri­cul­ture,” Blumenfeld said. The New­som ad­min­is­tra­tion has made a point of reach­ing out to the farm­ing com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly on wa­ter is­sues.


Chlor­pyri­fos-based pes­ti­cides help con­trol ants and red scale in­sects, pests that look like round, hard dots, Joel Nelsen, pres­i­dent of Cal­i­for­nia Cit­rus Mu­tual, told The Tri­bune in Septem­ber.

The Cal­i­for­nia Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion, which has ar­gued that chlor­pyri­fos should be kept le­gal, said the state’s de­ci­sion will put agri­cul­ture in a bind.

“Once again, farm­ers find them­selves caught in the mid­dle of a fight among ac­tivist groups, fed­eral and state agen­cies,” pres­i­dent Jamie Jo­hans­son said in a pre­pared state­ment. “Food may be­come more ex­pen­sive, and Cal­i­for­ni­a­grown food less plen­ti­ful.”

When the ban is fi­nal, Cal­i­for­nia will be­come the sec­ond state to pro­hibit the chem­i­cal’s use. Hawaii has banned chlor­pyri­fos, and New York’s leg­is­la­ture passed a bill ban­ning it.

On the na­tional level, the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in March gave the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion un­til mid-July to de­cide whether to ban the chem­i­cal or not.


Cal­i­for­nia re­cently banned chlor­pyri­fos, a pes­ti­cide used treat some com­mer­cial cit­rus groves in SLO County. to

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