The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed course and yesterday asked a federal court to remove Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo from the market. NRDC sued EPA last year to challenge the agency’s approval of Enlist Duo, and EPA is now abandoning its defense of that decision in court. The controversial pesticide combines glyphosate (the same active ingredient as in Roundup) with another powerful weed killer called 2,4-D. The EPA had approved Enlist Duo just over one year ago for use on genetically modified corn and soybeans but is now asking the court to vacate that approval in light of new concerns about environmental harm.

In its court filing, EPA said that when it registered Enlist Duo, it had overlooked the “synergistic effects” of the pesticide’s chemicals on plants growing outside treated farm fields, especially plants that are endangered. EPA is now concerned that the pesticide is far more toxic than the agency first concluded based on an incomplete review. As the agency stated in its court filing: “EPA has learned that it did not have all relevant information at the time it made its registration decision.”

Dow AgroSciences has until December 7 to respond and then it will be up to the court to decide if the pesticide will be pulled from the market.

The following is a statement by Sylvia Fallon, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“There has been huge public opposition to Enlist Duo, which the EPA now acknowledges is an even more dangerous pesticide than previously realized. Removing this dangerous chemical from the market is a key step in protecting sensitive native plants and monarch butterflies, which have been further threatened by its impact on milkweed, the plant they need to survive.

“We are delighted by this news, but also troubled that EPA overlooked this information initially. Regulators need to get it right the first time and take the time necessary to make reasoned, deliberate decisions. EPA needs to do better in protecting human health and the health of the plants and animals in the ecosystem.

“Pulling Enlist Duo’s registration is an opportunity to stop escalating the toxic assault on wildlife, farmers, and public health.”

Glyphosate, the most widely used weed killer in the country, is the chief cause of the decline of the monarch butterflies, and scientists have raised serious questions about 2,4- D’s impact on human health.

More than 200,000 people signed an NRDC petition asking Dow AgroSciences to cancel its plans to sell Enlist Duo.