CropLife America (CLA), and three of its member companies — Cheminova, Dow AgroSciences, and Makhteshim-Agan Industries (MAI) — have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the EPA over the assessment of pesticide risks to endangered species. The parties maintain that the EPA has failed to comply with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in a manner consistent with its responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
The ESA requires federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when an action may affect an endangered or threatened species or its critical habitat. Under the current system, the EPA’s scientific reviews have been “disregarded” by the wildlife services, which have engaged in product reviews based on “faulty and out-of-date scientific data, while ignoring high-quality scientific data from the EPA, state regulatory agencies and registrants”, CLA points out.
The endangered species consultation process has been mired in legal challenges for years. The EPA’s call for use restrictions on three organophosphate insecticides last year represented the completion of the first consultation between the EPA and the NMFS in over 20 years. The affected registrants (Cheminova, Dow, and MAI) subsequently filed a petition with the Agency seeking more transparent procedures in the establishment of use restrictions under the ESA. The companies feared that a precedent would be set for establishing use restrictions on numerous pesticides subject to ESA lawsuits.
Industry concerns over the endangered species consultation process were raised at this month’s CLA/RISE spring conference. The EPA and the wildlife services have formed a high-level working group to develop a new consultation process.
(Source: Informa UK Limited 2010)