Loc: Waterloo, NY
Historic Settlement: Wildlife Agency Will Finally Examine How Roundup, Atrazine Harm 1,500 Endangered Species
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will analyze the impacts of atrazine and glyphosate — the two most commonly used pesticides in the United States — on 1,500 endangered U.S. plants and animals under the terms of a historic settlement reached today with the Center for Biological Diversity. The agreement ensures that the Fish and Wildlife Service will develop conservation measures on these two pesticides, along with propazine and simazine, which together represent nearly 40 percent of annual pesticide use in the United States.
“This agreement will result in long-overdue protections for our country’s most endangered species,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center. “Once the Fish and Wildlife Service completes its analysis, and the public finally learns just how toxic and deadly these pesticides are to endangered species, we hope that the government will ultimately take most of these products off the shelf.”
Despite a clear legal requirement to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the impacts from pesticides on endangered species, the Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly failed to do so when it registers a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. A series of lawsuits by the Center has forced the EPA to begin consulting on the impacts of pesticides, including an agreement reached last summer for EPA to begin the process to analyze the harms from atrazine and glyphosate by June 2020.
Today’s settlement follows a similar framework and requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to finish the consultation process on these chemicals by December 2022. The analysis is likely to lead to permanent restrictions on some of the most harmful uses of these highly toxic pesticides.
“With more than 300 million pounds of Roundup and 80 million pounds of atrazine being dumped on the landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage being done to endangered species, our environment and our own health,” said Hartl. “The analysis required under the Endangered Species Act is our best bet for forcing the EPA to stop acting as a rubber stamp for industry, and to finally make environmental protection the highest priority in decisions about these dangerous pesticides.”
Glyphosate has also been linked to the decline of many wildlife species, including monarch butterflies. The increase in use within the United States has come with the widespread adoption of herbicide-tolerant, genetically engineered crops such as corn and soy. The World Health Organization recently declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, and just last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would begin testing for glyphosate in food.
In addition to causing severe harm to endangered species, atrazine exposure may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in people. A 2013 study showed that children whose mothers were exposed to atrazine had an increased risk of birth defects. Atrazine is the second-most commonly used pesticide after glyphosate, more commonly known as Monsanto’s Roundup.
“Government agencies have a legal and moral duty to ensure that harmful chemicals aren’t sprayed in the same places where vulnerable wild animals are trying to survive,” said Hartl. “Pesticides found in endangered species habitat can also contaminate our drinking water, food, homes and schools, where they pose a disturbing health risk.”