Farmer and Conservation Groups Challenge EPA and Monsanto in Court over XtendiMax

Posted on Feb 15 2018 - 11:59pm by Sustainable Pulse

On Friday, public interest organizations representing farmers and conservationists made their legal case in a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Monsanto Company, challenging EPA’s approval of Monsanto’s new “XtendiMax” dicamba pesticide. XtendiMax is Monsanto’s version of dicamba, an old and highly drift-prone weed-killer. EPA’s approval permitted XtendiMax to be sprayed for the first time on growing soybeans and cotton that Monsanto has genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to dicamba.

The 2017 crop season – the first year of XtendiMax use – was an unprecedented disaster. Just as critics warned would happen, dicamba sprayed on Monsanto’s GE soybeans and cotton formed vapor clouds that drifted to damage a host of crops and wild plants. Over three million acres of soybeans as well as scores of vegetable and fruit crops, trees and shrubs throughout the country were damaged by dicamba drift. Flowering plants near cropland also suffered, with potential harms to pollinators, as well as hundreds of endangered animal and plant species. Agronomists reported they had never seen herbicide-related drift damage on anything approaching this scale before. As the 2018 season approaches, experts predict similar widespread devastation.

“The evidence shows that, rather than protecting farmers and the public interest, government officials rushed this pesticide to market without the rigorous analysis and data the law requires,” said George Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case. “There was good reason that decision had such devastating consequences last year: it was illegal.”

The papers filed in Court tell the story of how EPA should have known this would occur, yet instead was pressured by Monsanto into approving the pesticide without any measures to prevent vapor drift. The evidence in the case also shows that in late 2017, under pressure to take some action, EPA adopted revised instructions for use Monsanto proposed and approved – measures that agronomists believe will again be ineffective.

Denise O’Brien, Iowa farmer and Board president of Pesticide Action Network, said, “Last year, EPA ignored concerns of farmers, caving to Monsanto’s pressure and rushing dicamba-resistant seeds to market. EPA has failed utterly to protect farmers from this exploding crisis.”

Ben Burkett, National Family Farm Coalition board president raising soy, old growth pine trees and roughly 20 different vegetables in Mississippi commented: “I’m firmly against using dicamba. Mother Nature will win this fight anyway, but dicamba is very detrimental to the environment and will cause more harm than good to farms and farmers.”

Not only did EPA fail to protect farmers, it put at risk literally hundreds of endangered species. Despite its own conclusion that the approval might harm an extraordinary number of the protected birds, mammals and insects in dozens of states, EPA refused to seek the guidance of the federal expert wildlife agencies, as the Endangered Species Act requires, and instead approved Monsanto’s pesticide without any measures to protect them, and denied there would be any risk.

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said, “EPA’s disregard of both the law and the welfare of endangered whooping cranes, grey wolves, Indiana bats, and hundreds of other species at risk of extinction is unconscionable. That the EPA would indulge in this kind of recklessness and junk science to appease Monsanto is shocking.”

“The EPA’s foolish approval of dicamba left a deep scar across millions of acres of farms and forests,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The ill-advised rush to approve this dangerous drift-prone pesticide reflects just how far the EPA has strayed from its duty to protect Americans and wildlife from harmful toxins.”

The plaintiff organizations bringing the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety.

For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions about Monsanto’s Dicamba-Resistant Crops and XtendiMax.

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5 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. McKenzie Wayne February 16, 2018 at 10:45 - Reply

    I just hope Monsanto gets treated like any other irresponsible corporate/individual as this could start landmark decisions that have been lacking in the last few decades .

  2. Frank Rowson February 20, 2018 at 01:26 - Reply

    Now that farmers are bearing the huge costs of their own actions we might get somewhere in bringing this system of farming to a halt. The shame is that the public, es

    • Dede February 22, 2018 at 21:26 - Reply

      And the farmers will pay, just like the farmers in India did with GMO cotton not being as draught resistant and became infested with whiteflies. The truth is out. It’s up the the farmers to stand up to the powers that bee (pun intended) in every country on the planet.

  3. Abe February 22, 2018 at 00:58 - Reply

    Now that it’s crystal clear that corporations are people to, Lock them UP for life!! Including them worthless XXXXX from the EPA!!

    • Dede February 22, 2018 at 20:29 - Reply

      Yes, Abe. They had our government pass that law. Corporations are people and can legally give billions of dollars of campaign contributions to Law makers to pass laws on their behalf!
      So therefore they should go to prison, just like everyone else, when they break the law, instead of just paying out their filthy money, as a slap on the wrist.
      They’re just as criminal in other ways as well.
      Please Pres. Trump nail them to the Wall. Make Scott Pruitt run the Environmental Protection Agency and not the Monsanto Protection Agency.

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