Enter your email address to receive notifications about new posts & articles in your inbox.
Home    |   Print Edition   |   The Environment Deserves Better: EPA and Questionable Pesticide Registration

The Environment Deserves Better: EPA and Questionable Pesticide Registration

Mar 15, 2022

Annie Pinto

Volume 48 (2021) - Issue 2

It is no secret that the chemicals present in pesticides can damage environmental and human health. Preventing this damage is why the process of registering pesticides is so crucial. In National Family Farm Coalition v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ninth Circuit Court upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) registration of the new pesticide Enlist Duo. The court found that Enlist Duo’s registration did not violate the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s (FIFRA) registration standards or the Endangered Species Act (ESA) risk assessment for species in the target area. Additionally, the court held that, while EPA failed to comply with FIFRA’s standards for the effects on monarch butterflies in the target area, it complied with all other species. The court accepted EPA’s finding that, so long as Enlist Duo is used “under the conditions prescribed by the label,” it does not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. In assessing these findings, the court deferred to EPA’s determination of best scientific evidence.

In this In Brief, I will argue that it was an error for the court to defer so wholly to EPA. First, EPA premised Enlist Duo’s registration on the unrealistic assumption of correct use in every application. Second, the court accepted EPA’s determination of the best scientific evidence available, despite flaws in EPA’s data and methodologies. The court should have been more stringent in its assessment of both EPA’s assumptions and data. Allowing this level of deference leaves room for agencies to insufficiently collect data and analysis in support of pesticides and other products that may be harmful to environmental and human health.