Monday, January 31, 2011

Pesticide Trade Association Offers Their Insight Into Recent NGO Endangered Species Act Lawsuit

About 10 days ago I reported on a law suit filed by two NGOs in an attempt to force EPA to "consult" with the Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on pesticide issues as required by the Endangered Species Act.  Now the major crop protection chemical (i.e., pesticide) trade association has weighed in on the suit.

The trade association, CropLife America, which "represents the developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest management in the United States," offered the following on their web site:

“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is an important legislative vehicle which helps facilitate the conservation of endangered plants and animals, yet the litigation filed by CBD and PANNA reflects the much larger issue: real ESA reform is required to protect endangered species,” said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “However, litigation does not help to improve a system which can only be fixed through sound policy and legislation.”
CropLife America believes that, while the lawsuit "alleges that EPA has failed to consult with the...Services to ensure that crop protection products do not jeopardize endangered species," the NGOs "overlook the numerous benefits of modern agriculture, its rigorous regulatory oversight and proven role in protecting America’s wildlife."  In other words, think of all the good that pesticides do for society.  But there is more, obviously, to the story as CropLife and the NGOs differ dramatically on the value of pesticides.  CropLife believes that they allow for greater crop growth, which means greater and more efficient food production.  The NGOs believe that pesticides epitomize the problem of reliance on monoculture, which requires heavy chemical usage to combat the resulting pest species that would otherwise not be able to gain a foothold.

Both groups would agree that a better consultation process is needed.  The NGOs think that having EPA make what are essentially summary decisions by themselves is a conflict of interest since EPA also garners fees for registering pesticides.  CropLife believes that bringing in the Services creates a huge stranglehold on innovation and the ability to bring new, and presumably safer, products onto the market.  This argument has been going on for years and perhaps is the real reason behind the NGO law suit - to get a case that can cause there to be decisions made on how to proceed.  Clearly a more effective procedure, both from an efficiency standpoint and from a human health and the environment standpoint, is needed.

No comments: