Are Seed Treatments the Next Legal Target for Agriculture?

In comic books, Superman often referred to his daily fight against crime as “The Never-ending Battle.” In agriculture, it seems as if this title could easily refer to the world of crop protection products – at least as it relates to the number of special interest groups lawsuits that have been filed in recent years. And, if a new lawsuit is successful, seed treatments could be the next battleground.

Earlier this month, the Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Action Network North America filed a lawsuit in the federal U.S. District Court of Northern California to force EPA to “assess and register” seed treatments as pesticides. Currently, the agency exempts seeds coated with insecticides as treated articles exempt (TAE). The groups in the lawsuit allege that since the neonicotinoid insecticides commonly used on some treated seed “cause widespread harm to birds, pollinators such as bees, beneficial insects, and endangered species.”


“EPA must apply that registration process to coated seeds and stop exempting them from it,” states the lawsuit. The lawsuit also is challenging the models EPA uses to decide which products to exempt from pesticides regulations.

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At present, it is estimated by industry watchers that approximately 150 million acres of cropland contain coated seeds on them.

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Obviously, this lawsuit should be watched carefully by the agricultural industry. As always, CropLife will provide more updates as this issue works its way through the U.S. court system.