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EPA Says No to NRDC

Reported to once number up to a billion, only 56.5 million monarch butterflies were counted last month at their Mexican refuge; the second lowest total ever, According to the National Resources Defense Council, the decrease is largely due to the use of a specific pesticide that kills milkweed.

The latest salvo in the continuing battle between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council was fired recently as the federal agency denied NRDC's petition, which was filed in February 2104, asking for an immediate review of glyphosate and its impact on monarchs, and for measures to curtail the pesticide's application.

In a press release by the NRDC, the organization stated, "confronted with the urgent and growing crisis of the imperiled monarch butterfly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today utterly failed to seize an opportunity to use its authority to limit the use of glyphosate (originally marketed as Roundup), the pesticide that is destroying monarch habitat."

In defense of their decision, the EPA cited work already in progress to protect the butterfly including the formation of the White House Pollinator Task Force Plan, and ongoing international work with Mexico and Canada to protect the monarch migration.

According to the NRDC, that annual migration is at risk of disappearing in a large part due to glyphosate killing the milkweed plants that serve as a host for butterfly eggs and the only food that the larvae will eat.

"The EPA apparently plans to study the monarch migration to extinction," said Dr. Sylvia Fallon, an NRDC senior scientist and director of its Wildlife Conservation Project. "Everyone loves the monarchs, including the Obama White House. But love isn't going to save monarchs from glyphosate. It's inexcusable for the EPA to call for more time to show glyphosate's harm while at the same time approving new glyphosate-based pesticides."

Her organization asserts that there is a broad scientific consensus that glyphosate is destroying monarch habitat, which was the reason for the request to conduct an expedited review of the pesticide. The new pesticide she was referring to is Enlist Duo, which the agency approved last year for use on genetically modified crops. The NRDC filed a lawsuit, currently pending, to block that approval.

In its original petition, the organization asked EPA to consider requiring glyphosate-free buffer zones near crops where milkweed could flourish, and banning the herbicide from use along highways and utility rights of way.

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July 23, 2019, 10:31 pm PDT

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