SAN FRANCISCO—Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) today announced plans to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for multiple alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act in the agency's registration of Enlist One and Enlist Duo, two highly toxic herbicides sprayed on genetically modified corn, soybeans, and cotton crops across the U.S.
According to the notice of intent to sue sent to EPA today, the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by "failing to consult" with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) before approving these herbicides. In addition, EPA has "failed to insure" against harm to threatened and endangered species and designated critical habitats in the 34 states where the herbicides are used.
"By failing to fully consider the adverse effects of Enlist herbicides on listed species and their habitats, EPA's registration decisions have jeopardized the survival and recovery of hundreds of vulnerable species across the country," said Kristina Sinclair, associate attorney at CFS. "EPA cannot continue to ignore the risks associated with Enlist herbicides on threatened and endangered species."
Today's legal notice is the latest in a series of CFS-led lawsuits regarding EPA's improper authorization of Enlist herbicides. CFS and PANNA initially challenged EPA's approval of Enlist Duo in 2014. In 2020, the Ninth Circuit held that EPA's previous registrations violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by underestimating the risks to milkweed plants and monarch butterflies.
Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides contain the infamous biocide 2,4-D, one of the active ingredients in the chemical weapon Agent Orange. EPA knew that the use of Enlist herbicides could harm endangered and threatened species by increasing concentrations of 2,4-D and glyphosate in the environment, destroying important spawning and breeding habitats, depleting food sources, and reducing local populations.
Despite repeatedly acknowledging that the use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo could harm hundreds of threatened and endangered species and their habitats, the EPA ignored these risks when it decided to renew the registrations of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in January 2022. EPA registered these herbicides for seven years without fully considering the risks or consulting with the expert wildlife agencies, as required under the Endangered Species Act. In addition to ignoring the adverse effects to listed species, EPA failed to evaluate its proposed mitigation measures.
"For too long, EPA has ignored the threats of Enlist herbicides to rural communities," said Willa Childress, Organizing Co-Director at PANNA. "EPA cannot continue to rush these harmful herbicides to market without thorough evaluation of their real-world impacts."
In response to CFS litigation, in 2015, EPA revoked the registration Enlist Duo, after recognizing that the chemical cocktail was more potentially more toxic and harmful than initially believed. Scientists with the National Cancer Institute found that the use of 2,4-D is associated with a heightened risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified 2,4-D as a possible carcinogen to humans and glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans.
What is it?
2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) is one of the oldest synthetic biocides…