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Daily News Blog

29
Jan

Court Rejects EPA’s Bid to Revoke Use of Dow’s 2,4-D/Glyphosate (Enlist Duo) Pesticide in GE Crops

(Beyond Pesticides, January 29, 2016) This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory to Dow Chemical Company and its  efforts to keep the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo on the market, despite new safety concerns identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Enlist Duo has been marketed as a “solution” for the control of glyphosate-resistant weeds in genetically engineered (GE) crops, brought on by the  widespread use of Monsanto’s  Roundup  on glyphosate-tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops over the last decade. EPA asked the court at the end of November, 2015 to vacate its 2014 approval of Enlist Duo based on new information on the  toxic effects associated with the synergistic interactions of  the chemical cocktail of 2,4-D, glyphosate, and other undisclosed ingredients in the product to plants outside the treated area, including endangered plants. The three-sentence order, which does not include  the judge’s reasoning, denied EPA’s request.

threeenlistsystemcomponentsEnlistDuoherbicideEnlisttraitsEnlistAheadWhile considering other legal options, EPA can choose  to exercise it administrative powers by  canceling specific uses or the entire  registration of Enlist Duo under  its pesticide cancellation process, and within that process could choose to identify an imminent hazard and remove the pesticide from the market immediately, while it faces additional challenges from Dow. Otherwise, the normal cancellation process could take years before the matter is resolved. Additionally, to protect farmers  and dealers, EPA could issue a product notice immediately, identifying new issues and findings that were not available at the time of registration. EPA, according to the Chicago Tribune, criticized Dow for failing to disclose information from a patent filing which states that the glyphosate and 2,4-D in Enlist Duo are more effective at killing weeds in combination than individually. Did  Dow withhold from the EPA registration process product safety information it was or should have been aware of at the time it submitted, and until it completed, its  registration application?  This question  raises issues of fraud or  noncompliance.

Super weeds,  associated with crops that are genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance, now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. Moreover, independent and USDA scientists predict that the Enlist Duo “crop system” will only foster resistance to 2,4-D in addition to glyphosate, thus continuing the GE crop pesticide treadmill and escalating the cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment. Additionally, the health effects of both 2,4-D and glyphosate are well documented. 2,4-D has been linked to  soft tissue sarcoma,  non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma  (NHL), neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, and harm to the reproductive system. Glyphosate was classified as a human carcinogen  based on laboratory studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March, 2015. Then, in June, 2015, 2,4-D was classified as a carcinogen by IARC.

The latest court action follows on the heels of a  year-long legal challenge  filed by a coalition of conservation groups, including Beyond Pesticides, seeking to rescind the  approval of the hazardous  herbicide blend, and challenging EPA’s failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered plants and animals protected under the  Endangered Species Act. In response to this legal challenge, as well as evidence that surfaced suggesting that EPA ignored evidence of kidney problems that Dow’s own researchers said were caused by 2, 4-D, EPA asked the court to revoke the registration of Enlist Duo while it reevaluated the synergistic effects of the chemicals in the product. The agency action to revoke the registration was challenged by Dow which, in the wake of this decision, will continue to be able to sell Enlist Duo in the interim time it will take EPA to make a full, secondary evaluation of the weedkiller, posing a continued threat to human health and public safety, and endangered plants.

EPA  wants to figure out whether bigger no-spray zones are needed to protect endangered plants on the edges of farm fields. Environmental groups in this case have argued that EPA has never evaluated the effect that Enlist Duo would have on the  declining monarch butterfly population  or its effects on public health, both of which they feel should be evaluated in EPA’s current review. This case highlights the problems caused by EPA’s trend of approving pesticides without adequate review.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach  that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Beyond Pesticides  suggests an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations filled with uncertainty, and instead focuses on  safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as  organic agriculture, which prohibits the the vast majority  of toxic chemicals.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Chicago Tribune

 

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