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Environmentalists Fight New Pesticide

WASHINGTON (CN) - Without consulting with expert biologists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorized a new pesticide that could affect as many as 1,377 federally protected species, environmental groups claim in court.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety and Defenders of Wildlife sued the EPA in Federal Court, challenging its authorization for widespread use of cyantraniliprole (CTP), a new pesticide that the agency expects to be used on a wide variety of agricultural crops, as well as golf courses, lawns, ornamental plants, fly bait and public health pests.

According to the lawsuit, CTP is a broad-spectrum systemic insecticide absorbed throughout plants.

"It kills by causing unregulated activation of ryanodine receptors, which results in unregulated muscle contraction, paralysis, and death," according to the complaint.

It adds: "Based on data showing the concentrations or amounts of CTP that cause direct effects, EPA classified the chemical as 'slightly to moderately toxic to freshwater fish; slightly toxic to estuarine/marine fish; slightly to very highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates; moderately to highly toxic to estuarine/marine invertebrates, highly toxic to benthic invertebrates; highly to very highly toxic to terrestrial insects' from acute exposures."

The groups claim that though the agency found that CTP was not acutely toxic to birds and mammals, their offspring showed "some impacts to weight and effects to thyroid and liver from chronic exposures."

Their complaint accuses the EPA of lacking information for specific species before performing a risk analysis.

"While EPA admitted that it lacked the ability to make determinations about the specific species and habitats affected by CTP, it 'identified a total of 1,377 listed species that overlap at the county-level with areas where cyantraniliprole is proposed to be used ... This preliminary analysis indicates that there is a potential for cyantraniliprole use to overlap with listed species and that a more refined assessment is warranted,'" the complaint states. "Based on these risks, several entities, including some of the plaintiffs here, urged EPA to consult with the Services before authorizing uses of cyantraniliprole."

The Services refers to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The EPA registered the pesticide in January, including product mixtures containing other pesticides such as thiamethoxam.

"Despite specific comments urging EPA to consult and EPA's conclusions in the Risk Assessment that additional analyses and cooperation with the Services were necessary, EPA finalized its CTP Registration Decision without consulting with NMFS or FWS as required by Section 7 of the ESA [Endangered Species Act]," states the complaint.

The groups say the government's authorization of the pesticide violates the Endangered Species Act. They want a court order vacating the EPA authorization of CTP use.

The groups' lead counsel is Patti Goldman, with Earthjustice, of Seattle.

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