Advocacy groups sue EPA after agency re-approved two highly toxic weed killers

By Shannon Kelleher

Environmental and workers’ rights groups this week filed a lawsuit alleging a federal agency failed to properly consider risks to public health and the environment when it re-approved two highly toxic herbicides.

Enlist One and Enlist Duo, which are sprayed on crops across the US, contain chemicals that jeopardize the health of rural communities and farmworkers and threaten hundreds of endangered species, native plants, and local waterways, the groups warn. They also say the products can increase damage to nearby crops and exacerbate the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds. In January 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) re-approved the weed killers’ product registrations for seven more years.

“Farmworkers and rural communities are experiencing significant health effects from Enlist herbicides,” said Mily Trevino-Sauceda, Executive Director of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, which advocates for farmworkers’ rights, in a press release. “EPA’s registration decision shows an utter disregard for public health.”

In their complaint, the Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas allege that the agency violated both the the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it re-approved the herbicides, understating the chemicals’ dangers and neglecting to consult the US Fish and Wildlife Service before moving forward.

“We’re asking the court to order EPA to properly consider the risks before approving these two harmful herbicides and to consult with the expert wildlife agencies,” said Kristina Sinclair, an attorney with the Center for Food Safety.