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US: Groups sue environmental protection agency over approval of toxic herbicide

On Friday, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval of trifludimoxazin, a potent herbicide used to control weeds in corn, soy, and many other crops, as well as weeds in tree plantations. Trifludimoxazin is the active ingredient in the herbicide Tirexor, manufactured by BASF.

"It's disappointing that even with the change in administration, EPA is continuing to approve new pesticides that harm the environment, farmers, endangered species, and human health—without a thorough consideration of these harms," said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. "EPA admits that spray drift and runoff of trifludimoxazin are likely to cause damage to non-target crops, wild plants, and fish, yet it failed to implement measures that could help to reduce those risks."

The groups' lawsuit alleges EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by discounting impacts of spray drift and runoff to terrestrial and aquatic plants, fish, and threatened and endangered species. The agency admitted in its response to public comments that it was ignoring the clear requirements of the law, leaving endangered species without any protections for potentially a decade or more.  

"The EPA cannot pick and choose when it will protect endangered species from toxic pesticides, condemning some species to extinction because the agency feels inconvenienced," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The EPA must stop recklessly approving pesticides that are polluting our rivers and streams and slowly wiping out one of the world's most diverse collections of freshwater species just to placate the pesticide industry."

Some endangered species at risk from trifludimoxazin include the Monarch butterfly, Chinook salmon, rusty-patched bumblebee, and other fish, insects and wild plants. There are also concerns about potential impacts to aquatic plants and organisms, as there is currently no mitigation to address runoff.

For more information:
Center for Food Safety
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