EPA Ordered to Assess Insecticide

EPA Ordered to Make Endangered Species Act Assessment on Insecticide Cyantraniliprole by 2023

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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A federal appeals court ordered the EPA to complete an Endangered Species Act assessment on the insecticide cyantraniliprole. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The EPA has until September 2023 to assess the insecticide cyantraniliprole's risk to endangered species and to make changes to its labeling to include mitigation measures, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Tuesday in an ongoing legal battle.

What's more, EPA will be required to file a progress report with the court every 60 days.

In 2014, the EPA registered the pesticide without first determining whether it would have adverse effects on endangered species. The court ruled in June 2017 that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by registering the insecticide "before making an ESA effects determination or consulting with other agencies."

Then in 2019, the agency was ordered by the DC Circuit to fulfill its statutory obligation. The EPA has yet to do so.

"Now, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety seek the only legal relief left that would force EPA to comply with the statute: a writ of mandamus," the court said in its ruling.

"For the reasons set forth below, we shall grant the writ."

Cyantraniliprole is the active ingredient in both Corteva Agriscience's Lumiderm seed treatment and Syngenta's Fortenza.

The chemical is a Group 28 insecticide (diamides). Fortenza is available for use in Canada in canola, corn and soybeans to target pests such as wireworm, cutworm and European chafer. Lumiderm is registered in Canada for use in canola and soybeans to control flea beetles, cutworms, bean leaf beetles and soybean aphids.

In January 2022, EPA announced plans to -- for the first time in decades -- fully comply with the Endangered Species Act.

According to the court's ruling, the environmental groups said during oral arguments they no longer will seek to vacate cyantraniliprole's registration because EPA agreed to meet the September 2023 deadline. If that deadline is unmet, the court said, the groups would be allowed to renew a motion for vacatur.

"EPA has long had a fraught relationship with the ESA," the court said in its ruling.

"It has made a habit of registering pesticides without making the required effects determination. As pesticides registered without effects determinations pile up, private parties regularly haul EPA into federal court to force ESA compliance. EPA has faced at least 20 lawsuits covering over 1,000 improperly registered pesticides."

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety originally asked the court to grant an order requiring EPA to conduct an ESA analysis within six months or face vacatur of the insecticide registration.

According to an EPA ecological risk assessment, https://www.regulations.gov/…, cyantraniliprole is "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."

Earlier this year EPA released its first-ever comprehensive workplan to protect endangered species from pesticides, https://www.epa.gov/….

The EPA also initiated pilot programs focused on reforming the pesticide-approval process and to correct violations of the Endangered Species Act, https://www.epa.gov/….

Read the court's ruling here: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/…

Read more on DTN:

"EPA Challenged on Insecticide Approval," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

"Endangered Species and Pesticides," https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

Todd Neeley

Todd Neeley
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