ODA Workgroup Sets Sights on Notorious Pesticide

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has organized a task force to evaluate and regulate the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos.  

According to the ODA, chlorpyrifos is “one of the most widely-used active ingredients in agricultural insect control products in the world.” In the state of Oregon the pesticide is primarily used to protect Christmas trees, alfalfa, grass, grapes, apples and wheat.  

However, chlorpyrifos has also been banned from indoor use since 2001, as it has been linked to birth defects and brain damage in infants, with health impacts observed in adults as well. Movements to ban the substance’s use on food crops last year were defeated on both the state and national level.  

The goal of the Chlorpyrifos Workgroup is “to explore appropriate science-based restrictions on products containing chlorpyrifos that protect public health and safety while fulfilling critical pest control needs of land managers.”  

“We have a really diverse agricultural industry in Oregon,” ODA’s Stephanie Page told OPB. “So many sectors within the industry use the product, we have other land uses that use the product and then we have folks who represent particularly vulnerable populations that can be exposed to the product.”   

Notably, Page warns that a full ban of chlorpyrifos may not be on the table.  

“One thing we want to make sure and understand with the group is what are the unintended consequences of restricting or banning a product in terms of what are the impacts on pests,” she said. “So, I think that’s something we will be looking at as well just to make sure we understand what the impacts can be on that side.”  

The workgroup has met twice since its formation in December, with another meeting planned for March and ODA expecting a proposal by May.  

Chlorpyrifos Workgroup Members:  

  • Lisa Arkin, Beyond Toxics 
  • Fred Berman, Oregon Health and Science University and Oregon State University 
  • Pete Brentano, Farmer, Oregon Board of Agriculture member 
  • Scott Dahlman, Oregonians for Food and Shelter 
  • Jenny Dresler, Oregon Farm Bureau, Associated Oregon Hazelnut Industries 
  • Jeff Jenkins, Oregon State University 
  • Chal Langren, Oregon State University 
  • Karen Lewotsky, Oregon Environmental Council 
  • Bryan Ostlund, Oregon Seed League, Oregon Clover Seed Commission, Oregon Blueberry Commission, Oregon Blueberry Commission, Oregon Fine Fescue Commission, Oregon Mint Commission, Oregon Ryegrass Growers Seed Commission, Oregon Tall Fescue Commission 
  • Dave Phipps, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America 
  • Martha Sonato, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste 
  • Jeff Stone, Oregon Association of Nurseries 

By Brandon Urey