The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
EPA Asks Court to Revoke Approval of New Weed Killer for Genetically Engineered Crops
In a stunning reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has retreated from its earlier decision to let Dow AgroSciences market a new weed killer, branded Enlist Duo, which the company designed to kill hardy weeds on fields of genetically engineered (GMO) corn and soybeans. The agency said the product could pose potentially significant environmental risks, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
“This sudden reversal shows that the EPA’s review and assessment of the Dow AgroSciences product was deeply flawed and incomplete,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior policy analyst for Environmental Working Group. “The EPA now has a second chance to step back and rethink the consequences of allowing Enlist Duo on the market. In our view, this chemical ‘solution’ would only keep farmers tethered to a chemical treadmill.”
In October 2014, EPA approved Dow AgroSciences’ request to market Enlist Duo, a mix of the herbicides glyphosate and 2, 4-D, in six states. In March 2015, EPA lengthened the list to 15 states. The company developed this new combination to fight so-called “superweeds” that have evolved to survive blasts of glyphosate, marketed as Monsanto’s Roundup, widely used on GMO corn and soybeans.
But Tuesday, responding to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups, including Environmental Working Group, the EPA lawyers told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that Dow AgroSciences had withheld data showing that the chemical mix has “synergistic effects,” meaning that the combination of pesticides intensifies the toxicity of the product to plants and possibly other living things
Lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department, representing the EPA, asked the Ninth Circuit court, which is hearing the environmentalists’ lawsuit, to vacate the agency’s approval (technically, “registration”) for Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo.
The Justice Department brief filed yesterday advised the court that “EPA has learned that it did not have all relevant information at the time it made its registration decision. Specifically, Dow did not submit to EPA during the registration process the extensive information relating to potential synergism.”
The World Health Organization has categorized Monsanto’s glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen and 2,4-D as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The defoliant 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Despite growing evidence that it is harmful to human health, glyphosate use has exploded in the U.S. driven primarily by the widespread adoption of GMO crops. If Dow AgroSciences is allowed to sell Enlist Duo, many GMO crop fields may doused with both glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Environmental Working Group analyses have found that more than 11,000 churches and 3,200 elementary schools sit near fields planted primarily with GMO corn and soybeans.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.
When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.
Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.
By Andrea Germanos
Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
By Tara Lohan
It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.
Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.