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Agribusinesses seek delay in endangered species evaluations

by Steve Davies

WASHINGTON — Three agribusinesses have asked the Interior and Commerce departments to stop analyzing the effects of three widely used organophosphate insecticides on endangered species, arguing that EPA evaluations provided to the agencies have overstated the risks of the chemicals to wildlife and that the process used by federal agencies to analyze the risks of pesticides to endangered species is deeply flawed.

Dow AgroSciences, ADAMA and FMC Corp. asked Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to direct the Fish and Wildlife Service (part of Interior) and National Marine Fisheries Service (in Commerce) to “set aside” their work on biological opinions (BiOps) on chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon. All three hold registrations for chlorpyrifos. ADAMA is a registrant of diazinon and FMC a registrant of malathion.

The companies contend that an approach the agencies adopted to evaluate the effects of pesticides on endangered species, which was developed based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, is “fundamentally flawed” and also should be “set aside.”

FWS and NMFS are working from biological evaluations prepared by EPA that found chlorpyrifos and malathion are likely to harm 97 percent of about 1,800 threatened or endangered species in the country, and that diazinon was likely to harm 79 percent. In the next few weeks, Fish and Wildlife (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are expected to issue their draft BiOps, which will recommend measures to avoid harming listed species or their habitat.

Read more at Agri-Pulse.com.