The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121

EPA Approves Dangerous Combination of 2,4-D and Glyphosate Pesticides

‘Enlist Duo’ Poses Immediate Danger to Monarch Butterfly, Indiana Bat and More Than 20 Other Endangered Species


Ignoring its legal duty to identify risks to endangered species, the Environmental Protection Agency today approved a new pesticide product -- Enlist Duo -- a novel combination of two of the most commonly used pesticides in the nation, 2,4-D and glyphosate. In expeditiously approving this combination of two known dangerous pesticides for use in the next generation of genetically modified corn and soybeans, the agency failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the negative impacts of the new combination on endangered species, as required by the Endangered Species Act. According to comments submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, more than 20 endangered species stand to be exposed to Enlist Duo at harmful levels.

"This was an unbelievably foolish decision -- Enlist Duo will harm dozens of endangered species, and is another nail in the coffin for the monarch butterfly," said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center. "Once again the EPA has turned a blind eye to endangered species, clean water and human health in its apparently endless desire to placate multinational pesticide companies. At a minimum, the agency needs to restrict use of this new chemical cocktail around streams, endangered species habitats and our communities."

Despite the well-documented risks of pesticides to hundreds of imperiled species, for decades the EPA has "registered" pesticides for use in the United States without completing consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service. For example, in 2004, the EPA re-registered 2,4-D despite concluding that endangered freshwater fish and invertebrates, birds, mammals and plants are put at risk by exposure to the chemical. Each year, over 30 million pounds of 2,4-D are used in the United States, and because the EPA refused to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service, endangered species continue to be subjected to unacceptable levels of harm from exposure to these chemicals.

"It's appalling that the EPA has refused to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service for over a decade on the impacts of 2,4-D on endangered species, but can approve another, deadly formulation of this poison in just over two years," said Hartl. "To be clear, EPA's conclusions about the ecological risk of Enlist Duo on endangered species are not credible, because they do not have the expertise to assess the impacts of pesticides on wildlife."

Enlist Duo's other active ingredient -- glyphosate -- has never been reviewed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as required by the Endangered Species Act, and has not had a basic risk assessment since 1993. Since then, use of glyphosate -- commonly known as "Roundup" -- has skyrocketed from 10 million to over 250 million pounds per year. The ever-increasing use of Roundup has had a devastating impact on monarch butterflies, whose caterpillars are wholly dependent on milkweed, one of the primary targets of Roundup. Monarch butterflies have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years, the same period of time that glyphosate use has grown exponentially.

"The monarch butterfly's migration is one of America's most awe-inspiring natural phenomena, and the EPA is willing to throw it all away just to get one more pesticide product on the market -- it's shameful," said Hartl. "If we all work together, we can still save this beautiful butterfly for future generations. But the EPA's approval of Enlist Duo just added one more hurdle to its survival."

Monarch butterflies are known for their spectacular multigenerational migration each year from Mexico to Canada and back. Found throughout the United States during summer months, in winter most monarchs from east of the Rockies converge in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on just a few acres of trees. The population has declined from a recorded high of approximately 1 billion butterflies in the mid-1990s to only 35 million butterflies in the 2013-2014 winter, the lowest number ever recorded. In addition to herbicide use with genetically engineered crops, monarchs are also threatened by global climate change, drought and heat waves, other pesticides, urban sprawl and logging on their Mexican wintering grounds.

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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