A new reduced-toxicity pesticide may remain on the market even though its approval violated the Endangered Species Act, according to a federal appeals court.
Cyantraniliprole, or CTP, was registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2014 as an active ingredient in 14 insecticide brands used on numerous crops. It’s commonly known as Cyazypyr.
The chemical provides a new weapon against the spotted wing drosophila in blueberries and the Asian citrus psyllid in citrus crops.
Environmental groups — Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Defenders of Wildlife — filed a lawsuit against EPA claiming the agency never studied CTP’s potential effects on threatened and endangered species.
According to the plaintiffs, CTP may be “fairly persistent” in an agricultural environment even as it degrades, raising the possibility the chemical will accumulate over time.
The plaintiffs pointed to EPA’s own ecological risk assessment that found the insecticide is expected to be sprayed in areas inhabited by 1,377 endangered species.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has now agreed that EPA violated the law by not reviewing the chemical’s potential to affect protected species or consulting about those effects with other federal agencies.
However, the EPA did not have “total disregard” for CTP’s possible adverse consequences, as shown by the ecological risk assessment, and registered the chemical because it’s likely to replace other insecticides more toxic to humans, birds, fish and bees, the D.C. Circuit said.
The D.C. Circuit said it’s convinced that leaving CTP’s registration in place while EPA further evaluates the chemical will maintain “enhanced protection of environmental values.”
The insecticide’s manufacturer, DuPont, intervened in the lawsuit, arguing that CTP’s registration fulfilled the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act.
The D.C. Circuit rejected that argument, ruling that EPA wasn’t excused from the legal requirement to conduct an “effects determination” or consult about the chemical’s impact with other agencies.
Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph dissented from the ruling because he believes the environmental plaintiffs weren’t injured by the pesticide’s approval and thus lack the legal standing to file the lawsuit.
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