(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2015) A coalition of conservation, food safety, and public health groups filed a motion Monday challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to expand the use of “Enlist Duo” on genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean crops to nine additional states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Enlist Duo, which contains the toxic herbicide, 2,4-D, was approved by EPA to be used on 2,4-D-resistant crops, despite concerns for human and environmental contamination.
The motion was filed in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety on behalf of Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. This motion builds on the coalition’s earlier challenge of Enlist Duo, which already includes six Midwestern states where EPA previously first approved the herbicide’s use on GE corn and soybean crops. Another legal challenge cites EPA’s failure to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the impact of the herbicide on two endangered species —the whooping crane and the Indiana bat— with the approval of Enlist Duo for use on GE crops.
The groups are challenging EPA’s decision to allow the use of Enlist Duo in 15 Midwestern states because of the serious impacts the powerful new herbicide cocktail will have on farmworkers, neighboring farms, and ground and surface water, as well as endangered species. For instance, 2,4-D, half the mixture of the infamous Agent Orange, has been linked to serious illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and reproductive problems. The EPA’s analyses also demonstrate plainly that the herbicide may affect endangered species, like the whooping crane, Louisiana black bear, and Indiana bat, through consumption of prey contaminated with the toxic chemical.
Enlist Duo, a new herbicide that incorporates a cocktail of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, was registered by EPA last fall and is intended for use on GE corn and soybean crops- deregulated last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Enlist Duo is being marketed as a “solution” for the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds brought on by the widespread use of glyphosate on glyphosate-resistant (Roundup Ready) crops over the last decade. Glyphosate-resistant super weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. EPA and Dow AgroScience are now allowing farmers to douse their fields with both 2,4-D and glyphosate to kill these resistant weeds. However, independent and USDA scientists, however, predict that the Enlist Duo “crop system” will only foster resistance to 2,4-D in addition to glyphosate, continuing the GE crop pesticide treadmill. USDA’s own analysis finds that approval of 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans will lead to an unprecedented 2- to 7-fold increase in agricultural use of the herbicide by 2020, from 26 million to as much as 176 million pounds per year.
“Big chemical is profiting over dumping more and more toxins in our air, water and bodies and killing our endangered wildlife,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. “Instead of being an environmental watchdog, the EPA is playing lapdog and allowing this deadly herbicide to be sprayed on millions of acres without adequate impact assessment. We filed our motion so we can finally stop the cycle of more and more pesticides with less and less oversight.”
States that are now approved to use Enlist Duo on GE corn and soybean crops:
- Arkansas – NEW
- Kansas – NEW
- Louisiana – NEW
- Minnesota – NEW
- Missouri – NEW
- Mississippi – NEW
- Nebraska – NEW
- North Dakota – NEW
- Oklahoma – NEW
- South Dakota
Public opposition to both the approval of Enlist Duo-tolerant crops and registration of Enlist Duo has been loud and clear. During the 2014 public comment period for the Enlist Duo corn and soybean, USDA received over 10,000 comments on its draft environmental impact statement and plant pest risk assessments. Of these comments, over 88%, including Beyond Pesticides, were opposed to the non-regulated status of the Enlist-tolerant varieties. Additionally the agency received over 240,000 signatures from three non-government organizations opposing the deregulation of the Enlist crops. Along with human health concerns surrounding expanded 2,4-D use, its drift is responsible for more episodes of crop injury than any other herbicide. These alarming and ongoing problems point to systematic deficiencies in the current regulatory system and pesticide-use paradigm ””new GE crops will not “solve” resistance issues, but merely push the problems of weed management further down the road.
Visit our website to learn more about GE crops and how to keep them out of our environment and food!
Source: Center for Food Safety
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.