Thursday, January 20, 2011

Groups Sue EPA Re: Pesticides Impact On 200+ Species

Jan 20: The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) filed what they called "the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under the Endangered Species Act to protect imperiled species from pesticides," suing U.S. EPA for its failure to consult with federal wildlife agencies regarding the impacts of hundreds of pesticides known to be harmful to more than 200 endangered and threatened species. The 411-page brief was filed in the Federal U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco Division).
    Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with CBD said, "For decades, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the disastrous effects pesticides can have on some of America's rarest species. This lawsuit is intended to force the EPA to follow the law and ensure that harmful chemicals are not sprayed in endangered species habitats."

    Dr. Heather Pilatic, codirector of PANNA said, "Endangered species and biological diversity are strong indicators for the health of the natural-resource base on which we all depend. To the extent that we fail to protect that base we erode the possibility of prosperity for future generations. This suit thus presents a real opportunity for American agriculture: By enforcing the law and counting the real costs of pesticide use, we strengthen the case for supporting a transition toward more sustainable pest-control practices like crop rotations and beneficial insect release."

    The lawsuit seeks protection for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon. Documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, as well as peer-reviewed scientific studies, indicate these species are harmed by the pesticides at issue. More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States, and the EPA has registered more than 18,000 different pesticides for use. Extensive scientific studies show widespread and pervasive pesticide contamination in groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.

    The groups said, "Many EPA-approved pesticides are also linked to cancer and other severe health effects in humans. Some pesticides can act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with natural hormones, damaging reproductive function and offspring, and causing developmental, neurological and immune problems in wildlife and humans. Endocrine-disrupting pesticides cause sexual deformities such as intersex fish (with male and female parts) that cannot reproduce. Scientists believe that pesticides may also play a role in the recent colony collapse disorder, the disappearance of bees that are agriculturally important pollinators."

    Miller said, "The EPA authorizes pesticide uses that result in millions of pounds of toxins, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, entering our waterways each year, polluting our soil and poisoning our drinking water. Common-sense restrictions on pesticide use that protect endangered species can also safeguard human health."

    Access a release with links to an interactive map of the species involved in the lawsuit and related information (click here). Access the 411-page legal brief (click here).

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