Newsom administration moves to ban chlorpyrifos pesticide, allocates $5.7 million for alternatives

Local News

California Governor Gavin Newsom released his revised $213 billion budget Thursday. His administration announced California will ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used to help grow 50 different types of crops in our state, adding the governor’s budget will allocate $5.7 million towards an alternative pesticide.

Farmers have used the pesticide since 1965 to keep a wide array of insects off of crops, but recent studies suggest the pesticide could be harmful to brain development of children, even before they are born. 

Tom Frantz, a local Almond farmer in Shafter who also leads the Association of Irritated Residents, a group that advocates for better air quality, supports the governor’s plan to ban the pesticide.

“It’s very toxic to insects. Unfortunately, studies have shown that it’s toxic to people.” He said the pesticide is especially dangerous for those who live close to agricultural areas. Recent studies suggest the pesticide could be harmful to brain development of children, even before they are born, Frantz added.

“Especially an unborn baby. It’s brain is developing. They found residues associated with this toxic insecticide in the cells of the baby. And it’s doing damage.”

The Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama Administration attempted to ban the pesticide but the Trump Administration reversed the effort, saying removing the pesticide would be detrimental to the agricultural economy.

But Frantz said alternatives already are in the works.

“If nothing else, we gotta protect the future of unborn children…It’s not the end of the world for farmers, and it’s probably a good thing for people to limit this in their system.”

Senator Melissa Hurtado weighed in, releasing the following statement:

“In the Central Valley, we face many unique challenges compared to the rest of California. Not only do we lead the nation in agricultural production, but our most disadvantaged communities are also more likely to be impacted by public health concerns caused by poor air quality and lack of access to clean water. 

That’s why I commend Governor Gavin Newsom’s holistic approach to ensuring that we carefully implement policies that are tangible to the livelihood of the diversity of our state. His announcement to provide transitional opportunities for farmers, invest in safer farming alternatives, and hold the Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) accountable while minimizing economic impacts is a bold demonstration of his promise to represent ALL of California.  

In addition to answering many of the questions I posed in the Senate Health relating to the legislation on this issue, the Governor’s actions will move DPR forward in a responsible manner by beginning the process of canceling the registrations for products containing chlorpyrifos, and at the same time, convening a cross-sector working group to identify safer alternatives to avoid replacing chlorpyrifos with an equally harmful pesticide. ” 

The ban on chlorpyrifos will not officially go into effect for another two years.

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