For Immediate Release, December 8, 2020

Contact:

Sylvia Wu, Center for Food Safety, (510) 434-4871, swu@centerforfoodsafety.org
Stephanie Parent, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6404, sparent@biologicaldiversity.org

Legal Filing Challenges EPA, Pesticide Industry Push to Keep Bee-killing Pesticide on Market

SAN FRANCISCO The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed an opposition brief late Monday in their ongoing litigation challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor.

The groups are opposing the request by the EPA and Dow Chemical to continue sulfoxaflor’s use across a wide range of landscapes. The brief asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reject the EPA’s request and immediately vacate the unlawful approval of the pesticide to protect the environment and some of the nation’s most endangered species.

“EPA admitted it failed to follow the law when it approved sulfoxaflor without any consideration for our nation’s endangered and threatened species, yet asks the court to overlook the harm to imperiled species so that Dow can continue to sell this toxic pesticide,” said Sylvia Wu, a senior attorney at Center for Food Safety. “EPA has had nearly a decade to comply with the Endangered Species Act, but it chose not to. The court must not allow EPA’s flagrant disregard of the law and our nation's most sensitive species to stand.”

The EPA reapproved sulfoxaflor in July 2019 after its initial 2013 registration was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the agency’s failure to assess the pesticide’s impact on bees.

The EPA’s 2019 approval authorized use of sulfoxaflor across more than 200 million acres of U.S. crops. The approval was granted despite the agency’s own scientists’ determination that sulfoxaflor is "very highly toxic" to bees and the documented harm to threatened species. The decision expanded sulfoxaflor's use to a wide range of bee-attractive crops, including soybeans, cotton, strawberries, squash and citrus trees.

“It’s just mind-boggling that amid an insect apocalypse, the EPA is pushing to dramatically expand use of a pollinator-killing insecticide,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity and co-counsel on the case. “By refusing to even consider sulfoxaflor’s harm to the nation’s most endangered plants and animals, the EPA is callously risking the extinction of amazing creatures like the rusty patched bumblebee, Oregon silverspot butterfly and Hines emerald dragonfly.”

The two groups sued the EPA in August 2019 for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and Endangered Species Act. During the course of the litigation, the EPA admitted its approval violated the Endangered Species Act because it did not consider sulfoxaflor’s effects on endangered species. Instead of removing the unlawful pesticide from the market, the EPA asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to permit the continued sale and use of sulfoxaflor while the agency takes at least seven years to consider the pesticide’s impact on endangered plants and animals.

Center for Food Safety's mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. Please join our more than 950,000 advocates across the country at www.centerforfoodsafety.org. Twitter: @CFSTrueFood, @CFS_Press

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.