17 September 2022, Washington: Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit yesterday against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for unlawfully withholding records potentially linking registered fungicides to increased antifungal resistance.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that CDC withheld public records detailing communications between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the CDC discussing a possible link between triazole fungicides registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the recent increase in drug-resistant aspergillus fumigatus; as well as records related to antifungal resistance in the 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report and CDC’s report, Antifungal Resistance: People & Environment.
“CDC’s attempt to prevent the release of critical information on the link between registered fungicides and drug-resistant fungus and agencies’ knowledge of such links reflects the CDC’s pattern of thwarting the public’s access to information under FOIA,” said Pegga Mosavi, legal fellow at Center for Food Safety. “The public deserves to be apprised of what CDC and EPA know about the link between registered fungicides and the quickly growing issue of drug- resistant fungal infections.”
In May 2022, CFS submitted a FOIA request to CDC, seeking documents regarding antifungal resistance resulting from fungicide use in agriculture. The CDC has yet to produce any records, prompting CFS to now sue under FOIA law.
The lawsuit comes alongside CFS and allies’ ongoing lawsuit challenging the legality of EPA’s re-approval of difenoconazole, a systemic triazole fungicide linked to neurological harm.
Resistant strains of pathogens such as Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida auris have become a global public health threat, as the few antifungal drugs that can treat diseases such as life-threatening invasive aspergillosis become ineffective. The documents CFS seeks will shed valuable light on the role difenoconazole and other fungicides play in promoting resistance to life-saving antifungal drugs and the breadth of our agencies’ awareness of this issue.
CFS is committed to ensuring the public has access to information concerning government regulation of pesticides. CFS’s FOIA program is committed to upholding the principles embodied in FOIA, such as maintaining an open and transparent government.
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