U.S – The Center for Food Safety (CFS), Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), and Alianza Nacional De Campesinas Inc. have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the unlawful reapproval of toxic herbicides used in food agriculture. 

The chemicals in question, Enlist One and Enlist Duo, contain 2,4-D, notorious as one of the active ingredients in the chemical weapon Agent Orange.

The lawsuit alleges that the EPA neglected to consider the environmental and public health risks associated with these herbicides.

According to the CFS lawyers, the EPA unlawfully ignored the potential environmental and public health risks posed by the Enlist herbicides.

The reapproval of these herbicides is concerning as they contain 2,4-D, a chemical that can significantly increase concentrations of 2,4-D and glyphosate in the environment.

The increased use of Enlist herbicides can harm rural communities and wildlife by damaging habitats for threatened and endangered species, polluting local waterways, and negatively impacting native plants and crops.

Violations of federal laws

The plaintiffs assert that the EPA’s registration decisions violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to adequately consider the adverse environmental and health effects before extending the approval of Enlist herbicides for another seven years.

They also argue that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by not sufficiently addressing the harmful effects these chemicals can have on threatened and endangered species in rural areas across the United States.

The lawsuit highlights that despite the EPA’s recognition of the potential harm Enlist can cause to hundreds of threatened and endangered species and their habitats, the agency disregarded these risks when renewing the registrations of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in January 2022.

The EPA failed to fully assess the risks or consult with expert wildlife agencies, as required by the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the EPA neglected to evaluate its proposed mitigation measures to address the impacts of these herbicides.

This latest lawsuit follows two previous lawsuits led by the CFS concerning the EPA’s improper authorization of Enlist herbicides.

Initially, CFS and PANNA challenged the EPA’s approval of Enlist Duo in 2014. In 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the EPA’s prior registrations violated FIFRA by underestimating the risks posed to milkweed plants and monarch butterflies.

In response to earlier litigation, the EPA revoked the registration for Enlist Duo in 2015 after acknowledging its potential toxicity and harm.

Health concerns 

The use of 2,4-D has been associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified 2,4-D as a possible carcinogen, and glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans.

The lawsuit against the EPA highlights the pressing need for stricter regulation and assessment of herbicides used in food agriculture.

It underscores the importance of considering the environmental and health risks associated with such chemicals to ensure the well-being of communities, wildlife, and the ecosystem as a whole.

Ongoing efforts by advocacy groups and legal actions aim to promote safer and more sustainable agricultural practices that prioritize human and environmental health.

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