Appeals Board Affirms EPA Decision to Cancel Pesticide Toxic to Dragonflies, Crayfish, Other Freshwater Species

For Immediate Release

Appeals Board Affirms EPA Decision to Cancel Pesticide Toxic to Dragonflies, Crayfish, Other Freshwater Species

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to cancel use of a pesticide that’s highly toxic to freshwater wildlife like dragonflies, crayfish and mussels survived an industry challenge from Bayer CropScience. The EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board agreed that Bayer failed to live up to its commitment to stop selling the pesticide when studies confirmed that it is too toxic for wildlife to keep it on the market.

“Cancelling flubendiamide is a huge win for freshwater wildlife around the country,” said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Aquatic invertebrates are among our most important and most imperiled wildlife. Harming species like dragonflies, crayfish and mussels has cascading effects on the entire web of life, and this pesticide poses unacceptable risks to these remarkable endangered freshwater creatures.”

The EPA knew back in 2008 that flubendiamide, an insecticide designed to kill caterpillars, is very toxic to aquatic invertebrates and accumulates in the environment with each application. Nonetheless, it granted Bayer a time-limited, conditional registration while Bayer conducted additional studies. The EPA gave its approval on the condition that studies show the harm to wildlife could be mitigated and that Bayer immediately voluntarily cancel if they did not. After the studies confirmed unacceptable levels of harm, the EPA requested voluntary cancellation. Bayer refused, fought the decision and lost. The Center for Biological Diversity supported the EPA’s cancellation by submitting friends of the court briefs.

“Bayer could not convince the Environmental Appeals Board that it should be able to back out of the bargain it made,” Parent said. “The EPA reached a sensible decision to affirm cancellation because Bayer should not be ‘rewarded with additional time to sell and distribute pesticides’ after failing to required conditions of its temporary license to sell flubendiamide.” The decision allows retailers other than Bayer to sell existing stocks of flubendiamide, but once that supply is gone, it will no longer be available for use.

The EPA concluded that “significant effects to aquatic organisms due to the use of flubendiamide could potentially occur in as little as 2 years.” Stream and river monitoring data indicate widespread occurrence of flubendiamide and its break down chemicals in the environment and widespread potential for water quality impacts.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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