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Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Treated Seed Regulations

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Industry

Treated Seed

Two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in regard to treated seed regulations. The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California, the lawsuit asserts that a “regulatory loophole” has wrongfully exempted seeds treated with pesticides.

EPA determined that treated seeds fall within the Treated Article Exception (TAE), therefore exempting them from certain requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). A petition asking EPA to regulate treated seeds as pesticides was rejected last year. The lawsuit has now been filed claiming that EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it classified pesticide-coated seeds as deserving a TAE. “The agency’s conclusion—upon which the rulemaking petition denial is based—is arbitrary and capricious, violating both the APA and FIFRA,” the complaint states.

At the center of the issue are commonly used neonicotinoid insecticides that are applied as seed treatments. The lawsuit asserts that coated seeds are used on roughly 150 million acres of cropland. CFS and PANNA point out that EPA has acknowledged the TAE as the only thing preventing treated seed from being regulated under FIFRA as a pesticide. The groups claim that the reasoning for EPA’s TAE determination is faulty and requires reversal.

“EPA has still unlawfully refused to close the loophole allowing them to escape any regulation,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case. “That decision is as unlawful as it is irresponsible. EPA is supposed to protect these species and habitats, not enable their peril and we are asking the court to tell the agency to do its job.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West