The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has once again failed to fully evaluate the impacts of the combination pesticide Enlist Duo before approving it for use—and NRDC is once again taking the agency to court. EPA first approved Enlist Duo in October of 2014, but a year later asked a court to vacate the registration, saying it could not ensure the product’s safety. In January of this year the agency once again approved the pesticide without making any significant changes to its environmental and human health assessments.
Enlist Duo is a pesticide manufactured by Dow which combines glyphosate (commonly known as RoundUp) with another pesticide called 2,4-D. Both of these chemicals eliminate milkweed which is a critical food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars. Monarch butterflies have been in steep decline over the past 20 years since the introduction of genetically engineered crops that are resistant to the application of glyphosate. Now that some weeds have evolved a resistance to glyphosate, chemical manufacturers like Dow are working to produce combination pesticides to address these new superweeds. However, these next generation pesticides will only create next generation superweeds, thereby creating an escalating cycle of increasingly toxic pesticide combinations that threaten not just monarch butterflies, but human health as well.
Glyphosate and 2,4D may carry significant health risks including possibly being carcinogenic. In fact, recent revelations suggest that EPA’s pesticide office may have improperly handled its cancer assessment of glyphosate, raising serious ethical, legal and scientific concerns.
Instead of leading everyone on a pesticide treadmill, the agency should be encouraging the use of sustainable pest control measures that will provide true solutions for farmers while protecting the environment and human health as is EPA’s mission. With Enlist Duo, the agency got two shots to do just that and failed both times. By taking EPA to court we are working to ensure that the agency does its job by fully evaluating the impacts of Enlist Duo, including its impact on monarch butterflies and human health.