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Public-interest groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency today over its rushed decision in the final days of the Trump administration to reapprove previously cancelled uses of the dangerous pesticide aldicarb on Florida oranges and grapefruits.
The decision allows 100,000 acres of citrus to be treated with up to 2.5 million pounds of products containing aldicarb, a pesticide banned in more than 100 countries and one of only 36 pesticides classified as “extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization.
“This approval of aldicarb is just one more assault on the men and women who harvest our citrus crops in Florida, who do ‘essential’ work but who are treated as dispensable,” said Jeannie Economos, coordinator of the Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project at Farmworker Association of Florida. “No one should risk their health and the health of their families in the course of doing a hard day’s labor feeding America.”
Aldicarb’s approval on Florida citrus came with lightning speed after a legally mandated public comment period that ended on Jan. 6. One day later, more than 100 pages of risk assessment documents were finalized, and on Jan. 12 — eight days before the transition to a new presidential administration — the Trump EPA finalized the approval.
“The outrageous decision to just ignore all the troubling research and expand use of this dangerous neurotoxin reeks of political interference,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re asking the court to make the EPA do its job and protect people and the environment. Florida’s rivers, lakes and streams should not be a dumping ground for poisons forbidden in countries across much of the globe.”
This approval came after representatives from the citrus industry lobbied the EPA, which had previously committed to banning aldicarb, to approve use of the neurotoxic pesticide on the nation’s citrus. The lobbying efforts included a meeting directly with the agricultural advisor to then-EPA administrator and Trump loyalist Andrew Wheeler.
“The former Trump administration is no longer in charge of EPA,