Fighting for an immediate ban on chlorpyrifos

Safe Food Matters and Prevent Cancer Now v. Attorney General of Canada and Minister of Health
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Program area – Healthy communities Status: In progress
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Chlorpyrifos is a dangerous pesticide that is sprayed on crops such as wheat and potatoes and all too often winds up on the dinner plates of Canadians.

It has been demonstrated to be a risk to human health and is notorious for its potential to cause brain damage in children.

In May 2021, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced that the use of chlorpyrifos would be cancelled in Canada. However, it is allowing a three-year phase-out period meaning that this dangerous pesticide can still be used until December 2023.

This is despite international evidence available to the PMRA that chlorpyrifos is a danger to human health.

Ecojustice, on behalf of Safe Food Matters and Prevent Cancer Now, challenged this decision in court, calling instead for an immediate cancellation of chlorpyrifos.

A Second Phaseout Decision, released in December 2021, purports to ‘replace’ or ‘supersede’ the First Phaseout Decision and ‘confirm’ it; the decision maintains the same extended phaseout until December 2023. The first decision had no supporting reasons. The second decision provides a risk management rationale, based on a lack of serious and imminent risks.

We are also challenging the second decision in court, calling for greater consistency, transparency and accountability in the decision-making process for harmful chemicals that impact the health of Canadians.

Ecojustice is asking the federal court to find the three-year phase-out of chlorpyrifos excessive and unlawful and to ban the use of this pesticide immediately.

Chlorpyrifos has already been banned in the European Union and is set to be phased-out in the US this summer.

The PMRA has been re-evaluating the use of chlorpyrifos since 1999 and has already restricted its use in certain circumstances due to the dangers the pesticide poses to human health. We say it is time to ban it altogether.

Canadians should not be exposed to dangerous pesticides such as chlorpyrifos. A win would mean an immediate ban on the production and use of this toxic chemical in Canada.

A win in this case could set a precedent about how Health Canada assesses and manages the risks of dangerous and harmful pesticides pose to the health and wellbeing of Canadians.

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