The world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, an agricultural pesticide linked to brain damage in children, has announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year.
The announcement on Thursday by Corteva, the corporation formed from a Dow Chemical and DuPont merger, comes after the Trump administration reversed regulatory plans to ban the pesticide and rejected the scientific conclusions of US government experts.
Chlorpyrifos has been widely used on corn, soybeans, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes, walnuts and other crops, but research has repeatedly found serious health effects in children, including impaired brain development. Environmental groups have long advocated for its ban, and the state of California, which grows the majority of the nation’s fruits and nuts, defied Trump and banned the chemical last year.
Corteva said it was ending production due to declining sales. Susanne Wasson, the president of Corteva’s crop protection business, told Reuters it was a “difficult decision”.
Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic chemical that was found to be harmful enough to humans that the US banned it from residential use in 2000. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, has continued to defend its safety for agricultural uses.
In California’s Central Valley, the heart of the agricultural industry, researchers raised concerns about impacts on pregnant women who lived near farms that sprayed chlorpyrifos. Some studies found low to moderate levels of exposure during pregnancy were linked to memory problems and lower IQ.