Lawsuit Launched to Protect Wildlife from Pesticides

27 October 2015 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a formal notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency today for approving benzovindiflupyr, a new fungicide that is very highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates. The EPA recognized that benzovindiflupyr could harm wildlife and critical habitat protected by the Endangered Species Act, but approved it for use without consulting with expert wildlife agencies as required by the Act. The EPA also allowed the use of benzovindiflupyr without properly studying its impact on imperiled bee populations and ignored studies indicating that fungicides may severely impact native bumble bees.

“This pesticide is highly poisonous to fish and other wildlife, but the EPA approved it anyway,” said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This agency’s cavalier approach to approving new toxic chemicals without required consultation or studies must end. The EPA’s indifference is once again putting imperiled wildlife across the country in harm’s way.”

On August 28, 2015, the EPA granted broad approval for use of benzovindiflupyr on most crops, including cereals, corn, vegetables, fruits, turf grass and ornamentals. The agency’s own data show that benzovindiflupyr is highly persistent in the environment and will build up in waterways due to runoff from treated fields. Nonetheless, the EPA approved benzovindiflupyr for immediate use.

“The EPA has a legal — not to mention, moral — duty to protect our water and wildlife from pesticides,” said Parent. “Instead, though, it has rubber-stamped its approval on yet another dangerous new pesticide.”

The EPA approved products containing benzovindiflupyr and three other pesticides — difenoconazole, propiconazole and azoxystrobin — despite the fact that none of these ingredients have undergone proper consultation for their impacts on our nation’s most imperiled animals and plants. The agency also refused to consider the impacts of benzovindiflupyr when combined with these other chemicals, despite the likelihood that synergistic impacts may make these products more toxic.

The Endangered Species Act requires the EPA to consult with federal wildlife biologists on the effects of chemicals applied in the habitat of imperiled species. To help these federal agencies break through years of gridlock, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report outlining a process to help the EPA work with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that pesticide regulation adequately protects imperiled wildlife. In response to those recommendations, the EPA announced several reforms designed to better protect endangered species. Yet the agency did not incorporate any of these reforms in its process for approving benzovindiflupyr.

The Center will ask the court to order the EPA to consult with federal wildlife biologists on benzovindiflupyr’s effects on endangered species and to put in place interim protections necessary to protect wildlife until the consultation is complete.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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