Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 10, 2018

Contact: Lori Ann Burd, (971) 717-6405,

Farm Bill Rejects Provision to Exempt Pesticides From Endangered Species Act

WASHINGTON— The final text of the 2018 Farm Bill agreed to today by Congress rejects an unprecedented, industry-written provision that would have eliminated critical protections from pesticides for endangered species.

The House version of the Farm Bill would have sanctioned virtually all harm to protected plants and animals from pesticide exposure, making it legal to kill endangered species with these powerful chemicals.

“Unlike the Trump administration, Congress refused to treat our most endangered plants and animals like pesky weeds and vermin,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. “It’s disgusting that pesticide companies wanted to make it OK to kill imperiled wildlife with these horrendous toxins.”

The bill’s House version would have also eliminated the requirement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service analyze a pesticide’s impacts on endangered plants and animals before the Environmental Protection Agency can approve it.

The industry-written provision, which did not go through the normal legislative process and was not introduced or discussed by a single member of Congress in a public session, represented the most sweeping attack on the Endangered Species Act in 45 years.

The Senate refused to include the provision in its version of the Farm Bill.

In December 2017 the National Marine Fisheries Service released a nationwide assessment revealing that three widely used insecticides — chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon — are putting killer whales and 37 different salmon and sturgeon species on a path to extinction.

In response the pesticide industry launched an unprecedented attack on the Endangered Species Act, seeking to stop all reviews of pesticides under the Act. By April of 2018, it had spent more than $43 million on congressional lobbying to achieve that goal, up from $34 million in 2017, with over $1 million just on donations to members of the House Agriculture Committee.

Shortly after Dow Chemical donated $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration, the White House ordered the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service not to complete an assessment of the harms those three insecticides do to endangered wildlife. This nationwide analysis had been underway for five years.

“Now that Congress has rejected the pesticide industry’s Hail Mary to destroy the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration should follow its example and stop putting special interests ahead of our environment,” said Burd. “We desperately need conservation measures to protect our wildlife from dangerous pesticides.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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