Public Interest Groups Ask Court to Move Forward with Lawsuit Challenging EPA’s Approval of Drift-Prone Dicamba Pesticide

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08 January 2022, Arizona: Yesterday, public interest groups Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Pesticide Action Network, and National Family Farm Coalition, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the legality of EPA’s 2020 registration of over-the-top dicamba pesticide uses on dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean, filed a motion requesting the court allow the litigation to proceed immediately and be expedited. The motion is in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s December 2021 report admitting another season of widespread harm to farmers and endangered species following EPA’s 2020 registrations.

“EPA is apparently content to sit on smoking gun evidence that it was wrong to re-register dicamba and that its measures and Monsanto’s empty promises have again failed,” said George Kimbrell, legal director at Center for Food Safety and counsel for plaintiffs in the litigation. “Our farmers and the environment can’t wait for more delay, so we are asking the court to allow our lawsuit to proceed so that we can do EPA’s job of ensuring that over-the-top dicamba use do not continue to harm agriculture and the environment.”

“Even after releasing a report on dicamba’s ongoing damage, the EPA has failed to end the harm and now the Department of Justice is trying to prevent us from going back to court to protect imperiled species and their habitats from this dangerous pesticide,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s extremely disappointing.”

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down EPA’s prior registrations of the same dicamba uses, holding them unlawful because of the damage to agriculture and farming communities from dicamba drift. In its latest report, EPA admitted that the same harms are still occurring. The report stated that over 1 million soybean acres were damaged by dicamba drift in summer 2021, along with numerous other valuable crops. It also admitted this is a significant underestimate since most drift damage goes unreported. EPA also admitted that at least 63 counties specifically noted for their endangered species concerns—home to imperiled species already on the verge of extinction that are known to be harmed by dicamba exposure—experienced injury from dicamba drift last summer. And EPA acknowledged that dicamba use continues to negatively impact communities by harming relationships amongst neighbors and spurring threats of violence.

As today’s motion explains, a lift of the stay is warranted to prevent another season of harm after the EPA again failed in its legal duties to ensure that the pesticide would not cause unreasonable harm to farmers and farming communities as well as to the environment and hundreds of endangered species. 

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