A concerned group of environment groups and farmers have petitioned the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal to stay the Environmental’s Protection Agency’s decision to approve Enlist Duo. The herbicide was approved despite wide spread protest and safety concern expressed by scientists and environmental groups.
The motion alleges that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding the environmental impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.
The Endangered Species Act mandates that every federal agency must examine whether its actions “may affect” any such species or any designated critical habitat. If there is an environmental impact the federal agency must consult with FWS and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to assure that the action is “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence” of that species. The EPA in response has requested that the court decide whether it has violated the law, admitting that approval of Enlist Duo may affect the whooping crane and Indiana bat.
“EPA admits that its approval of a toxic pesticide cocktail including 2,4-D for widespread use may affect endangered species, including the whooping crane, one of the most endangered animals on earth,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Paul Achitoff. “We ask only that the Court decide whether EPA has violated the law, as we believe it has before putting these imperiled birds at further risk.”
“EPA is well aware that pesticides routinely drift and affect public health and wildlife beyond the fields in which they are sprayed. To ignore this known risk and avoid consultation with other expert agencies is unlawful and irresponsible,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety.
The product was approved despite the concern expressed by scientists, medical professionals, farmers, consumer advocacy groups and the U.S. congress who petitioned the EPA to withdraw the product from the market.
Medical experts had previously advised Congress that the herbicide and the corresponding herbicide genetically resistant engineered crops would constitute a pubic health risk and cause an environmental catastrophe.
Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co, has submitted application for both the 2,4-D and glyphosate herbicide and genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds genetically engineered to be resistant to the 2,4-D/glyphosate combination.
The following excerpts are briefings made to the U.S. congress by prominent scientific and medical experts.
“Exposures to herbicides in early life can lead to disease in childhood or disease later on in adult life or even old age,” said Dr. Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Herbicide chemicals can also cross from mother to child during pregnancy and prenatal exposures that occur during the nine months of pregnancy are especially dangerous.”
“Physicians are very concerned about exposure to the combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate because of the potential lifelong and irreversible effects on the health of vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and farm workers,” said Dr. Thomasson, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Policy decisions should take into account the costs that can result from failure to act on the available data on toxic herbicides.”
“2,4-D already is permitted by EPA to remain as residues on over 300 different forms of food,” said John P. Wargo, Ph.D., professor of environmental health and politics at Yale University. “Spraying millions of additional acres with these chemicals will increase their contamination of soils, surface and groundwater and foods bearing their residues. If applied by aircraft, sprays will drift to adjacent lands, potentially endangering those who reside, go to school or work nearby.”
“The biotech industry is about to repeat the same mistakes that got us into this predicament,” said Doug Gurian Sherman, Ph.D, senior scientist with Center for Food Safety. “The public must demand policies and research that help farmers adopt proven, ecologically-based farming systems with minimal pesticide use that are productive, profitable and better for society.”
“The toxic herbicide mix is being proposed because glyphosate alone is no longer working, since its overuse has led to the development of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It. “This ‘chemical treadmill’ benefits the GE patent holders at the expense of farmers, human health and the environment.”
In June of last year, 35 doctors, scientists and researchers, including Dr. Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Raymond Richard Neutra, a retired division chief of the California Department of Public Health, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to deny Dow’s application.