Legal Challenge Filed to Push By EPA, Pesticide Industry to Keep Bee-Killing Pesticide on Market
(San Francisco, Cal.) Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed an opposition brief yesterday in their ongoing litigation challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor.
The groups are opposing the request by the EPA and Dow Chemical for approval of sulfoxaflor's use across a wide range of landscapes. Yesterday's opposition brief asks the court to reject the EPA's request and to immediately vacate the unlawful approval of the pesticide in order to protect the environment and some of the nation's most endangered species.
"EPA admitted it failed to follow the law when it approved sulfoxaflor without any consideration for our nation's endangered and threatened species, yet asks the Court to overlook the harm to imperiled species so that Dow can continue to sell this toxic pesticide," said Sylvia Wu, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety. "EPA has had nearly a decade to comply with the Endangered Species Act, but it chose not to. The Court must not allow EPA's flagrant disregard of the law and our nation's most sensitive species to stand."
The EPA reapproved sulfoxaflor in July 2019, after its initial 2013 registration was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the agency's failure to assess the pesticide's impact on bees.
The EPA's 2019 approval authorized use of sulfoxaflor across more than 200 million acres of U.S. crops. The approval was granted despite the agency's own scientists' determination that sulfoxaflor is "very highly toxic" to bees and the documented harm to threatened species. The decision expanded sulfoxaflor's use to a wide range of bee-attractive crops, including soybeans, cotton, strawberries, squash and citrus trees.
"It is just mind-boggling that amid an insect apocalypse, the EPA is pushing to dramatically expand use of a pollinator-killing insecticide," said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "By refusing to even consider sulfoxaflor's harm to the nation's most endangered plants and animals, the EPA is callously risking the extinction of amazing creatures, like the rusty patched bumblebee, Oregon silverspot butterfly and Hines emerald dragonfly."
The two groups sued the EPA in August 2019 for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and Endangered Species Act (ESA). During the course of the litigation, the EPA admitted its approval violated the ESA because it did not consider sulfoxaflor's effects on endangered species. Instead of removing the unlawful pesticide from the market, the EPA asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to permit the continued sale and use of sulfoxaflor while the EPA takes at least seven years to consider the pesticide's impact on endangered plants and animals.