Environmental group sues U.S. EPA over monarch butterfly demise
By Carey Gillam
Feb 27 (Reuters) - An environmental group sued the U.S. government on Friday, accusing regulators of discounting the dangers of a widely used herbicide on the declining monarch butterfly population.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in U.S. District Court in New York. The suit claimed the agency has failed to heed warnings about the dangers to monarchs posed by glyphosate, the key ingredient in a widely used herbicide. Glyphosate is used in Monsanto Co's Roundup and other herbicides.
Federal law requires EPA to ensure that pesticides it approves will not cause "unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, including wildlife," the lawsuit states. "However, the agency has never considered glyphosate's impacts on monarchs."
The NRDC and other environmental organizations have asked the EPA to review what they say is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating glyphosate's "devastating" effects on monarchs, but the EPA has not acted, the suit claims.
The EPA did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit.
The orange-and-black spotted monarchs, renowned for migrating thousands of miles (km) over many generations from Mexico, across the United States to Canada, and then back again, have seen their numbers fall dramatically in recent years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The lawsuit states that the monarch population was tallied at 1 billion in 1997 and this winter was down to 56.5 million butterflies, the second-lowest number ever measured.
The lawsuit states that a key cause of the monarch demise is the application of glyphosate to farm fields, and the resulting destruction of the milkweed habitat that migrating monarchs rely on. Continued...