California draws farmers' ire in attempt to restrict common pesticide used on grapes, almonds

Industrials Associated Press

California regulators say they're taking steps to restrict the use of an insecticide widely sprayed on the state's biggest crops, including grapes and almonds.

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Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, said Thursday that chlorpyrifos has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years. He also fears that overuse can make insects immune to the insecticide.

Leahy says he does not seek to ban the pesticide, but limit its use for when it is most needed. Leahy expects pushback.

Joel Nelson, president of the California Citrus Mutual, said officials in Sacramento are creating a broad brush approach rather than taking into consideration each farmer's need to protect their crops.

State officials say since 2001 at least 136 people have been treated for illness cause by the pesticide.