LIHU‘E — The agrichemical company Corteva Agriscience is phasing out production of the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
That’s because the market has turned, according to a Thursday statement from Corteva representatives.
“Demand for one of our long-standing products, chlorpyrifos, has declined significantly over the last two decades, particularly in the U.S.,” said Corteva’s Kaua‘i communications representative Laurie Yoshida.
She continued: “Due to this reduced demand, Corteva has made the strategic business decision to phase out our production of chlorpyrifos in 2020.”
Corteva grows corn and other crops on the Westside, and sells chlorpyrifos under the Lorsban brand.
The chemical has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but studies out of entities like the American Academy of Pediatrics and University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health point to the chemical harming children’s brain development.
The environmental law firm Earthjustice has sued the Trump administration to get a ban on sales of the chemical, and the lawsuit is ongoing.
Work toward the ban includes a series of lawsuits and appeals by organizations represented by Earthjustice. In August, EPA said chlorpyrifos can be used on fruits and vegetables, though environmental groups maintained even low exposures to the chemical could be harmful to infants and children.
Earthjustice cites studies that associate chlorpyrifos with reduced IQ, attention disorders and autism.
After the August decision, Earthjustice clients regrouped and initiated the currently ongoing lawsuit, asking EPA to ban the chemical.
Hawai‘i was the first state in the union to ban use of the chemical, an action that happened in 2018. That ban started Jan. 1, 2020, and users were allowed to apply for a three-year extension of that deadline.
Earthjustice attorney Marisa Ordonia hailed the Corteva decision to discontinue production of the chemical as a triumph on Thursday, but pointed out they’re still working toward a ban.
“There are other chlorpyrifos manufacturers and the pesticide will still be allowed on imported foods,” Ordonia said. “While we are celebrating this victory, we will continue fighting to protect children from chlorpyrifos and other brain-damaging pesticides.”
Chlorpyrifos use is mostly geared toward agriculture, and the EPA banned most residential uses of the pesticide about a decade ago.
Still, it’s one of the most popular pesticides in the United States.
Yoshida said customers who are buying chlorpyrofis will still have access to the pesticide through Corteva to cover 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,” Yoshida said.
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.