Withdrawal of pesticides containing Chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (OP) insecticide with a broad spectrum action (effective against a wide range of insects) that was commercially introduced in 1965.

Despite efforts by all the Farming Unions to secure a longer use-up period, it is now confirmed that from 1st April 2016 it will be illegal to sell, distribute or use existing stocks. UFU are in discussions to explore the issue of unused open and additional sealed stock disposal held on farm.

Following a European Union review, based on new human health safety levels known as toxicological endpoints when applied for the use of Chlorpyrifos has resulted in its withdrawal.

Changes affecting consumer risk acute reference dose (ARfD) and the acceptable daily intake (ADI)) resulted in the amendments to authorisations earlier this year. Further reviews on operator/sprayer acceptable operator exposure level (AOEL) have now also been completed and assessed.  Risk assessments carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and endorsed by the Expert Committee on Pesticides (EPC) have identified that current authorised uses of Chlorpyrifos exceed these newly agreed endpoints. These findings resulted in HSE with the co-operation of product authorisation holders taking action to withdraw these uses from the market. 

As this is a human health issue a short withdrawal period resulted rather than the usual phased withdrawal over a longer specified time period. 

Stephen Jess, Plant Health & Environmental Protection Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division AFBI, has been working closely with the UFU regarding the Implications for NI Agriculture and Horticulture.

UFU noted the withdrawal of Chlorpyrifos is likely to have an impact on NI agriculture and horticulture owing to the limited alternative approved insecticide substances in most sectors, but specifically grassland, arable, top and soft fruit.

In grass and cereals, leatherjacket control will be the biggest challenge; leatherjackets are the larvae of crane flies, the larvae live in the soil, feeding on the roots of plants, as they develop they sometimes move to the soil surface eating plant foliage.  Top fruit and soft fruit sectors historically have been reliant on Chlorpyrifos. Now the only alternatives may be biological or cultural methods of control.

The changes

o From 1st April 2016 the only permitted use of Chlorpyrifos will be the protected brassica seedling drench treatment applied via automated gantry sprayer

o All other uses of Chlorpyrifos are withdrawn with immediate effect from 1st April 2016

o Storage disposal and relabeling of any existing Chlorpyrifos stocks must be completed by October 1, 2016.