Agricultural groups in the USA have appeared before the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge a ban imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the use of chlorpyrifos, World Grain reported.

In its challenge on 15 December, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and other agricultural groups had also urged the court to reinstate former safety tolerance levels for the previously widely-used pesticide, the 22 December report said.

“Farmers rely on federal regulators to follow the law,” Daryl Cates, ASA president and soyabean grower from Columbia, Illinois, was quoted as saying.

“Congress wrote pesticide laws the way they did to provide growers access to the tools they need to be successful and to ensure those tools can be used safely and effectively. When EPA violates the law and refuses to follow its own science to inappropriately deny access to safe, important tools, there needs to be accountability to protect the nation’s farmers and our operations.”

Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate, has been used as a pesticide since 1965 in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications. In 2007, an environmental advocacy organisation had submitted a petition to the EPA requesting the agency revoke all safety tolerances for chlorpyrifos, World Grain wrote.

In its summary, the EPA said that “based on the currently available data and taking into consideration the currently registered uses for chlorpyrifos, EPA is unable to conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure from the use of chlorpyrifos meets the safety standard of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Accordingly, EPA is revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos.”

The final rule was effective from 29 October 2021, and tolerances for all commodities expired on 28 February 2022.

Following the decision, food containing any amount of chlorpyrifos was considered as adulterated.

In the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association et al v Michael Regan et al lawsuit, agricultural communities said that despite decades of demonstrated safe usage, the ban on chlorpyrifos had brought burdensome costs to thousands of farmers and severely limited their capacity to control crop-destroying pests.

In addition to the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, other agricultural organisations that had joined the lawsuit included: the US Beet Sugar Association; the American Sugarbeet Growers Association; the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative; American Crystal Sugar Co.; Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative; the American Farm Bureau Federation; the American Soybean Association; the Iowa Soybean Association; the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association; the Missouri Soybean Association; the Nebraska Soybean Association; the South Dakota Soybean Association; the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association; the National Association of Wheat Growers; the Cherry Marketing Institute; the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association; the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association; Gharda Chemicals International and the National Cotton Council of America.

A court decision on the lawsuit was expected in the coming months, the report said.