On June 6, 2023, the Center for Food Safety and two other environmental groups sued EPA over the Agency’s decision to renew registrations for Enlist One and Enlist Duo, two herbicides manufactured by Corteva Agrisciences, LLC. The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as Center for Food Safety v. EPA.
The lawsuit alleges that EPA failed to properly evaluate the Enlist products’ risks as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) when the Agency renewed the herbicides’ registrations until 2027. According to the plaintiffs, the herbicides cause numerous adverse environmental effects, including harm to crops growing on neighboring properties and drinking water contamination. The plaintiffs allege that EPA understated these risks in making its decision, while overstating the herbicides’ effectiveness. In addition, the plaintiffs argue that EPA’s decision harms the survival, growth, and reproduction of exposed plants and animals, including endangered and threatened species. The plaintiffs ask the court to vacate EPA’s decision and to stop the sale and use of the Enlist products.
In an EPA memorandum supporting the Agency’s decision, EPA stated that it had “evaluated the benefits and risks to human health and the environment from these products’ uses, including potential risk to non-target organisms, and conducted effects determinations for federally listed endangered and threatened species.” According to EPA, the results of its evaluations and assessments were sufficient for the Agency to conclude that granting the registration renewal met the requirements of FIFRA and ESA. These requirements include FIFRA section 3(c)(5), which directs EPA to register a pesticide when the Agency finds that the pesticide will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment, among other criteria; ESA section 7(a)(2), which requires EPA to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that actions taken by EPA do not jeopardize endangered and threatened species; and ESA section 7(d), which prevents EPA from taking irreversible action during 7(a)(2) consultation that eliminates the implementation of reasonable alternatives.
Enlist Duo has previously been the subject of litigation. In National Family Farm Coalition, et al., v. U.S. EPA, et al., 966 F.3d 893 (9th Cir., 2020), petitioners challenged EPA’s decisions to register the herbicide in 2014, 2015, and 2017 on FIFRA and ESA grounds. The panel rejected the petitioners’ ESA claims and the majority of the petitioners’ FIFRA claims, allowing Enlist Duo registration, but agreed with the petitioners that EPA did not properly assess harm to monarch butterflies due to the herbicide’s effects on milkweed. The panel remanded the registration decision to EPA so the Agency could assess this concern and determine whether it presented an unreasonable adverse effect under FIFRA.
According to EPA, Enlist One and Enlist Duo are registered for use in 34 states for a variety of uses on corn, cotton, and soybeans. Both herbicides contain the active ingredient 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid choline salt. Enlist Duo also contains the active ingredient glyphosate.