Today the EPA approved the use of a new pesticide that is a combination of both glyphosate (better known as Roundup) and 2,4 D for use on genetically engineered corn and soy. Glyphosate, the most widely used weed killer in the country, is the chief cause of the decline of the monarch butterflies, and scientists have raised serious questions about 2,4-D’s impact on human health. This short-sighted move by the EPA opens the door for the ever increasing use of pesticides that will only further endanger both wildlife and people which is why NRDC will challenge the decision in court.
Since the creation in the late 1990s of crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate (Roundup Ready crops), the amount of glyphosate used in agriculture has skyrocketed. As a result, some weeds, like milkweed – which monarchs depend on – have plummeted and so have the butterflies. Other weeds, however, have evolved resistance to the chemicals making it even harder for farmers to manage these unwanted ‘superweeds.’ Instead of recognizing the unsustainable path of this escalating weed war, the EPA has gone ahead and approved the addition of 2,4 D even though it will only lead to more problematic superweeds that would eventually require, yet again, a more powerful pesticide.
Rather than expanding the use of these chemicals, we believe that we should be restricting their use. NRDC filed a petition with EPA earlier this year asking them to evaluate and limit the use of glyphosate in light of the drastic impact it has had on monarch butterflies. We asked the same of their evaluation of Enlist Duo, yet EPA failed to address the effect of these herbicides on the monarch decline. We also pointed out flaws in their evaluation of the human health risks of Enlist Duo.
This escalating cycle of more and more powerful pesticides is just not a winning solution for anyone – including farmers. In fact, the environment, our health and our iconic species are already losing. It’s EPA’s responsibility to protect our health and the environment – and its time that they were held accountable.
You can send EPA a message asking them to protect monarchs by restricting the use of herbicides by going to LetMonarchsFly.org.