Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 11, 2016

Contact:  Stephanie Parent, (971) 717-6404,

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Plants, Monarchs From Toxic New Pesticide

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for once again approving a toxic pesticide without fully considering its potential harm to the environment. The potent new plant-killer, halauxifen-methyl, could harm rare plants and the increasingly imperiled monarch butterfly. Yet the EPA approved the chemical without a robust and legally required scientific evaluation of its effects, including its potential to harm to bees and other imperiled pollinators.

“Pesticide chemical companies are dodging the requirement that they must provide the EPA with basic information on the potential harm of pesticides, and the EPA isn’t demanding it,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center. “Without all this critical information, the EPA simply can’t make pesticide-approval decisions supported by science. This is a bad deal for rare plants, butterflies and the people who love them.”

As a result of intense pressure and litigation from the Center and other advocates, the EPA is making some progress, albeit slow, in its pesticide-evaluation process — for example, prohibiting the mixture of halauxifen-methyl with other active ingredients that increase its toxic effects. Yet it allowed mixture of the product that contains halauxifen-methyl and another active ingredient, florasulum, with any other chemical (other than glufosinate) without a sound explanation of that decision. And the agency once again ignored its mandate to consider the effects of this pesticide and mixtures on endangered species.

Despite a mandate from the White House to protect imperiled pollinators, the EPA has waived the required pollinator-impact studies for a full year, allowing halauxifen-methyl to be used on fields across America without knowing how it will affect the already declining bee populations.

“With this latest pesticide approval, the EPA is once again gambling with the health of imperiled bees and butterflies, leaving us with no choice but litigation to force them to follow the law,” said Parent. “Pesticide companies are choosing not to share critical information with the EPA about how their pesticides react with other chemicals, yet the EPA is still choosing to approve the pesticides.”

The EPA’s negligence in fully evaluating the potential harms of new pesticides is not a new development. Earlier this year the Center released a groundbreaking new report, Toxic Concoctions, finding that over two-thirds of new pesticides registered in the past six years by the four major pesticide companies had patents demonstrating their new products’ synergistic effects with other pesticides — effects the EPA failed to consider. Synergism can greatly increase the harm of the pesticides to nontarget species such as bees and butterflies. Prior to 2016 the EPA had not considered patents showing pesticide synergy or incorporated the publically available patent information into their analyses of these new pesticides. The Center followed this report with a petition to the EPA asking that it require information on pesticide synergy in pesticide-registration applications. The EPA has yet to act on this petition.

In assessing the new pesticide, the agency did make progress by asking for, and evaluating, some information on synergy. It still fell short by failing to obtain all the synergy information available or considering how the pesticide may affect bees and endangered species.  

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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