Environmental groups sue EPA for lack of action on seed treatment petition
In the complaint, the plaintiffs – the Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Action Network – allege that the EPA’s refusal to act on their petition allowed the “irreparable environmental damage” caused by the treated seeds to continue, including including a recent environmental crisis in Mead, Nebraska, after an ethanol plant mismanaged treated corn seed and its ethanol byproducts and wastewater. (To learn more about DTN, click here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)
The plaintiffs also note that the EPA never formally codified its decision to exempt seed treated with pesticides, which allowed it to avoid a lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs in 2016. Instead, The EPA’s continued exemption for treated seed is based on a 2013 guidance document on the investigation of pesticide-related bee deaths.
In the meantime, the use of seed treatment has increased dramatically, with treated seed being planted on approximately 180 million acres of crop each year. Since neonicotinoid insecticides applied to the seed are soluble in water and can become detached from the seed, these pesticides have surfaced in mammals, birds, insects and many waterways, as well as in the human urine, the plaintiffs note in their lawsuit. (See more DTN on the growing concerns about these environmental exposures from treated seeds here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)
In the past, the EPA has used the treated articles exemption to exempt from comprehensive regulations other articles coated with pesticides, such as wood or shower curtains.
But the seed treatments include systemic pesticides which are absorbed into plant tissue and are therefore marketed as protecting both the seed and the growing young plant from insects and disease – a fact which the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have seized upon. .
“Because coated seeds are not treated primarily to protect the seed itself, but rather to protect the growing plant, they cannot be properly exempted as” treated articles “under the regulations,” says the trial. “As a result, the EPA has completely failed to assess the risks of these unregulated pesticides. It has also never provided the public with a rationale for its exemption or codified this practice in its regulations.”
The plaintiffs are asking the court to order the EPA to respond to the 2017 petition within 90 days.
At the time of publication, the EPA had yet to respond to DTN’s inquiries about this lawsuit.
See the trial here: https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/….
See the original 2017 Center for Food Safety petition here: https://www.epa.gov/….
Emily Unglesbee can be reached at [email protected]
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