Home News EPA sued over reapproval of toxic herbicides using Agent Orange chemical

EPA sued over reapproval of toxic herbicides using Agent Orange chemical

by Sean Martu

Public health groups are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency over the reapproval of two toxic herbicides made with an active ingredient in Agent Orange, a chemical weapon deployed by the US to destroy vegetation in the Vietnam war, and which caused huge health problems among soldiers and Vietnamese residents.

The federal suit alleges the EPA’s science shows the human health risks and harm to endangered species associated with widely spreading the chemical on US cropland, but the agency failed to properly calculate those risks during the reapproval process. The herbicide is also prone to damaging non-GMO crops or vegetation on neighboring fields.

The suit asks a federal judge to order the agency to rescind its approval and recalculate the environmental and health risks using proper methodology.

“[The herbicides] are highly toxic and have devastating impacts on wildlife and rural communities that live near sprayed fields,” said Kristina Sinclair, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety. The non-profit brought the suit with Pesticide Action Network North America, and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas.

It comes after a federal court invalidated the herbicides’ previous approval in late 2020, but the EPA still “rushed” to reapprove the herbicides, the complaint alleges.

The chemical 2,4-D, is used in Enlist One and Enlist Duo, which are applied to fields with corn, soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to resist the herbicides. It is considered a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and, among other human health effects, is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects and respiratory problems.

The chemical is also thought to harm hundreds of endangered species including butterflies, birds, fish, deer, panthers and bats. It works by attacking the roots and leaves of weeds and causing them to produce unwanted cells, not unlike inducing cancer to kill or hobble it.

The suit also alleges the products’ approval threatens to increase the spread of new herbicide-resistant weeds because the EPA failed to properly mitigate risks, which will make it harder for farmers to manage troublesome weeds.

One of the Enlist products also uses glyphosate, a controversial and highly toxic ingredient linked to cancer and subject to another lawsuit over EPA approval.

The EPA first approved Enlist One and Duo for use in several states in 2014, and since then has approved its application across much of the US. The products are now widely used, but were up for a registration renewal in 2021 that triggered a health review. The EPA based its health and environmental impact assessments on earlier usage levels, which the environmental groups say dramatically underestimate the threat.

The products were spread on about 1.5m acres of cropland in 2018, and the weed killer’s manufacturer, Corteva, reported that use has since tripled, the complaint states.

Enlist is sometimes applied to the ground near the base of a plant and also sprayed over the top of farmland. While both methods cause harm because the chemicals accumulate in the environment and run off into waterways, spraying the herbicide makes it more prone to drifting into neighboring fields.

The groups also allege that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act because the products threaten endangered species in rural areas across the US, but the agency did not properly consult with expert wildlife agencies.

Sinclair characterized the move as an attempt to “skirt” the law, and said it was unclear why the EPA seems so determined to allow the use of the active ingredient for Agent Orange on cropland.

“I do not know and I wish I could tell you, but that’s why we are challenging it,” she added.

Source: The Daily Guardian

0 comment

You may also like

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More