As sales of the pesticide chlorpyrifos ends in California, maker Corteva announces it will stop producing it.

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Sky Chadde is the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. He can be reached at sky.chadde@investigatemidwest.org

This story is embargoed for republication until Feb 18, 2020.

Corteva Agriscience ­­– the main manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has been linked to brain damage in children – said it would stop its production by the end of this year. 

Amid other bans, the announcement comes on the same day – Feb. 6 – as sales of the pesticide ended in California. One other state has already banned the pesticide and another is phasing it out of use.

Asked if the decision to stop production was related to the end of sales in California, Corteva said demand for the product has been decreasing for years.

“Demand for one of our long-standing products, chlorpyrifos, has declined significantly over the last two decades, particular in the U.S.,” according to the statement. “Due to this reduced demand, Corteva has made the strategic business decision to phase out our production of chlorpyrifos in 2020.

“We are committed to continuing to support our farmers and invest in products they need,” the statement continued. “Our customers will have access to enough chlorpyrifos supply to cover current demand through the end of the year, while they transition to other products or other providers. Our customers, shareholders and employees will benefit by redeploying our resources.”

One environmental group praised the decision. 

"It’s encouraging to see Corteva finally take steps to remove this toxic brain-damaging pesticide from the market. We applaud Hawai'i, California and New York for banning this harmful pesticide, and urge other states and federal legislators to follow their lead," said Jason Davidson, food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group . "We must ensure that children, farmworkers and communities everywhere are safe from chlorpyrifos."  

The pesticide was banned in 2000 for most household uses, according to the New York Times, but it’s still widely used in agriculture.

In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the pesticide altogether, which went into effect in early 2019, according to the Associated Press.

California announced its ban in October, according to a press release from the state’s environmental protection agency. Growers will not be allowed to possess the pesticide after Dec. 31, 2020.

The decision came after a scientific review panel at the University of California, Irvine concluded the pesticideshould be considered a “toxic air contaminant.”

In December, the governor of NewYork said the pesticide will be phased out, starting with aerial spraying, according to a news release from his office. The pesticide is to be completely banned by July 2021.

Sales of the pesticide ended in the European Union on Feb. 1, according to Bloomberg News. The union’s food safety agency had found no safe exposure level, according to Bloomberg.

Exposure to the pesticide has been linked to decreased birth weight, cognitive disorders and lower IQ scores, accordingto the New York Times.

The Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide nationwide in 2015, but the Environmental Protection Agency reversed course in 2017. The agency is currently reviewing the pesticide and is scheduled to complete its assessment by Oct. 1, 2022.

Susanne Wasson, the president of Corteva’s crop production business, said the company would support the pesticide during the review, according to Reuters.

“We believe in the product,” she told Reuters.

Sky Chadde is the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. He can be reached at sky.chadde@investigatemidwest.org