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New York AG James sues to stop chlorpyrifos pesticide spraying on food crops

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Letitia James. Photo by Peter Katz

New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of six state attorneys general in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its refusal to halt the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food crops.

In the lawsuit, James and her fellow attorneys general argued there was well-documented data on the harmful impact of chlorpyrifos on the neurological development of infants and children, adding that EPA scientists were twice unable to identify a safe level for the pesticide on food. The pesticide is manufactured by Dow Agro Sciences LLC, Cheminova, Makteshim-Agan, Garda and Platte Chemical.

The EPA proposed regulations in 2015 and 2016 to stop the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops, but former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued an order in 2017 to delay any final decision on the issue until at least October 2022.

“Chlorpyrifos is extremely dangerous, especially to the health of our children,” James said. “Yet, the Trump administration continues to ignore both the science and law, by allowing this toxic pesticide to contaminate food at unsafe levels. If the Trump EPA won’t do its job and protect the health and safety of New Yorkers, my office will take them to court and force them to fulfill their responsibilities.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. James is joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general of California, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont. The attorneys general of Hawaii and the District of Columbia said they planned to join the coalition.


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