The EPA failed to conduct endangered species assessments of the herbicide
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quietly announced a new policy on glyphosate last week that could alter the future of the herbicide.
After years of legal manoeuvres, the EPA settled a lawsuit with the Center for Biological Diversity, an American environmental group.
The settlement requires the EPA to evaluate glyphosate’s impact on all endangered species in the United States.
The Centre for Biological Diversity said the settlement is a major victory for wildlife and environmental advocates.
“This settlement is the first step to reining in the widespread use of dangerous pesticides that are harming both wildlife and people,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director with the environmental group.
The Center for Biological Diversity said the EPA is required, by law, to consider the impacts of pesticides on endangered plants and animals.
“The EPA has never completed any endangered species assessments of glyphosate at any point over the lifetime of this chemical on the market,” the centre said in a statement.
“The agency last evaluated the general ecological impacts of glyphosate in 1993, when approximately 10 million pounds were applied annually.”
Hartl said American farmers now apply 140 million kilograms of gly-phosate each year.
The EPA’s assessment of glyphosate and endangered species will likely focus on the monarch butterfly.
Scientists and environmentalists have said the increased use of glyph-osate since the mid-1990s because of the rapid adoption of Roundup Ready crops has eradicated milkweed in U.S. agricultural regions.
Monarchs rely on milkweed for food, and reports suggest the butterfly’s population has cratered, falling from one billion in 1997 to 56.5 million this winter.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the world’s largest environmental groups, filed a lawsuit against the EPA earlier this year. The suit claimed the EPA failed to consider how glyphosate puts monarch’s at risk.
The EPA’s legal settlement with the Centre for Biological Diversity also requires the agency to review atrazine, another popular herbicide, and its impact on endangered species.