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.
Victory! Toxic pesticide banned on #GMO crops https://t.co/KY1ae05kCW https://t.co/jGb9b94xyB— GMWatch (@GMWatch)1448493602.0
“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.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.