EPA Pushed on Records for Enlist Duo Herbicide

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency should release records it generated in approving the Enlist Duo, conservationists say in a federal complaint, noting that new herbicide contains similar toxic ingredients as Agent Orange.
     A product of Dow AgroSciences, the herbicide Enlist Duo contains glyphosate dimethylammonium salt and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.
     While Dow’s rivals at Monsanto use the glyphosate ingredient in its weed killer Round Up, the later ingredient was found in the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam War.
     Glyphosate-resistant super weeds have been exploding from overuse of glyphosate on crops genetically engineered to resist the pesticide’s effects, so Dow hopes Enlist Duo will fill in the gaps. Once sprayed, the chemical kills all plants except for corn and soybean plants that have been engineered to resist it.
     It’s been over a year since the EPA approved Enlist Duo for use in six states, and proposed its use in 10 additional states, claiming the herbicide had no effect on more than 50 endangered and threatened species.
     The agency reversed course in November 2015, however, after facing legal pressure by environmental groups.
     In asking the Ninth Circuit to vacate its approval, the EPA claimed that Dow had provided it with new information, which would require more stringent restrictions in the use of the herbicide by farmers.
     Though the Ninth Circuit declined to vacate the order late last month, it told the EPA it could review its own approval.
     One of the groups opposing approval of Enlist Duo is the Center for Biological Diversity.
     Facing two requests for agency records on Enlist Duo under the Freedom of Information Act, the EPA withheld about 150 records in their entirety, claiming they were attorney-client privileged and exempt from disclosure requirements.
     The center filed suit in Washington on Wednesday, contending that EPA officials are “unlawfully withholding” records by “improperly invoking” FOIA exemptions.
     “After two years of stalling, sending only heavily redacted records, and ignoring our appeal for information, EPA has left us with no choice but to go to court to obtain the records on this deadly chemical,” Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at CBD, said in a statement.
     The lawsuit claims the EPA’s own risk assessments of Enlist Duo concluded it was risky to birds, mammals and plants, but offered no explanation of benefits that outweighed those risks.
     Further, the agency did not consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about the effects on endangered and threatened species, the lawsuit alleges.
     If approved, Enlist Duo would have been used in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Dakota.
     Representatives for the EPA have not returned a request for comment.
     The lawsuit comes about a week after Monsanto sued California to stop the state from listing glyphosate as a carcinogen.
     Environmentalists have been firing back in recent months after APHIS, short for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, deregulated three corn strains genetically engineered by Monsanto and Syngenta to produce bigger ears.

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