EPA denies petition to ban pesticide used on crops

In this photo taken Oct. 5, 2014, apples are displayed at a farmers market in Arlington, Va. A common pesticide used on citrus fruits, almonds and other crops would be banned under a proposal announced Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency. The proposal would prohibit use of chlorpyrifos, a widely used insecticide that is sprayed on a variety of crops including oranges, apples, cherries, grapes, broccoli and asparagus. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a bid by environmental groups to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Wednesday denied a petition to ban the agricultural pesticide chlorpyrifos, reversing a proposal by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food.

Environmental groups say the “unconscionable” decision ignores overwhelming evidence that even small amounts of chlorpyrifos can damage parts of the brain.

The pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and regulators say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide.

U.S. farms use more than 5 million pounds of the chemical each year – about 25 percent of it in California.

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