Twice the Toxicity: Farmers and Public Interest Groups Sue EPA for Approving Dow’s Deadly Pesticide Combo


March 21, 2017


Courtney Sexton; 202-547-9359,

Paul Achitoff; 808-599-2436,

Stephanie Parent; 971-717-6404, sparent@biologicaldiversity. org

Linda Wells; 563-940-1242,

Jay Feldman; 202-255-4296,

EPA approval of Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Duo will lead to sharply increased spraying of toxic pesticides, harming farmers, neighboring crops, and wildlife

SAN FRANCISCO—Today farmers, conservation groups, and food and farm justice organizations stood up to protest against the contamination of rural communities, our food supply, and the environment by filing a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration. The groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under new administrator Scott Pruitt for approving Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Duo, a mixture of the weed-killing chemicals glyphosate and 2,4-D—both of which are known to be highly toxic. The novel combo pesticide is sprayed directly on corn, soybean, and cotton plants that are genetically engineered by Dow specifically to survive exposure to the pesticide. EPA approved the use of the pesticide in 34 states.

Farmers will be hit hard by the human health harms of Enlist Duo, and are put at risk financially by 2,4-D’s known tendency to volatize, drift, and damage neighboring crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects  that Enlist Duo’s approval will lead to as much as a seven-fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D—a component of the infamous Vietnam-era defoliant “Agent Orange”, which has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and other reproductive problems. The other component of Enlist Duo is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship pesticide Roundup. Glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 2015.

This is the second lawsuit the groups have had to bring over the product. After the groups challenged its initial approval in 2014, the Obama Administration agreed to re-analyze some of its impacts. Unfortunately, EPA then re-affirmed its original approval and dramatically expanded it, allowing Enlist Duo to be sprayed in more than twice as many states and on cotton in addition to corn and soybeans.

Enlist crops and Enlist Duo are part of a disturbing, industry-wide trend where crops are genetically engineered to withstand multiple pesticides, allowing pesticide companies like Dow and Monsanto to sell both expensive GE seeds and large quantities of the pesticide cocktails that are sprayed on them. While these GE crop systems initially provide a quick-fix way to kill weeds, the intensive spraying triggers rapid evolution of weed resistance to the chemicals. Just as overuse of antibiotics breeds resistant bugs and more antibiotics to kill them, so these GE crop systems drive a toxic spiral of increasing weed resistance and pesticide use.

In addition to health risks, significant crop damage from pesticide drift, and increases in both weed resistance and pesticide use, spraying Enlist Duo on millions of acres will contaminate waterways and important wildlife habitat. EPA’s own assessments found that Enlist Duo is highly toxic to numerous plants and animals, including endangered and threatened species found in or near agricultural fields.

The petitioners bringing the lawsuit are National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders, Pesticide Action Network North America, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity, represented jointly by legal counsel from Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety.



“Further industrialization of agriculture through Dow’s chemical solutions will lead to fewer family farmers, more pollution and more resistant weeds, but that will be okay for chemical companies like Dow with only one solution to every problem in agriculture—a sledge hammer of more chemicals and the GMOs immune to them.  Enlist Duo’s own label recognizes there may be weed biotypes already resistant to glyphosate or 2,4-D,” said George Naylor of the National Family Farm Coalition, who farms non-genetically-engineered crops in Iowa.

Jim Goodman, Family Farm Defenders board member and organic farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin, commented: “Roundup was initially touted as a replacement for older, more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. Now that Roundup, the widely used carcinogenic pesticide is failing to kill weeds, Dow is bringing back 2,4-D and teaming them up to create a more toxic mix than ever. Will the buffer strips on my organic farm be adequate protection from the more volatile drift-prone nature of 2,4-D? I should not be put in the position to find out.”

“Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration are endangering farmers and the environment by caving to Big Ag and approving this highly toxic pesticide combo,” said Sylvia Wu, staff attorney for Center for Food Safety and legal counsel in the case. “Fortunately we have laws written to protect farmers and the environment, and we intend to have the Court enforce them.”

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented: “EPA knows that spraying a hundred thousand tons of this pesticide on millions of acres every year will threaten the survival and recovery of some of our most iconic endangered species, but it refuses to follow the law that protects them. We will hold EPA accountable.”

“The lack of vision and oversight by our federal agencies is outrageous,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America. “By continuing to defer to the pesticide industry’s every wish, EPA shirks its duty to protect the health of rural communities and the livelihoods of farmers. It also locks us into a failed and obsolete model of chemical-intensive agriculture, rather than spearheading a transition to the healthy, vibrant food and farming system that Americans deserve. ”

“EPA’s registration of Enlist Duo, which causes unreasonable adverse effects to health and the environment, is responsible for increased 2,4-D use –as much as a seven-fold increase to 176 million per year by 2020, without the economic return achieved by those who practice sustainable organic production,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

“In reissuing an expanded approval for this toxic chemical cocktail, the EPA has shown an utter disregard for human health, our drinking water and endangered species like the iconic whooping crane,” said Stephanie Parent, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The law requires reasonable safeguards and the EPA has left us with no choice but to force the issue in this suit.”



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Sixth Annual John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize will be Awarded by Family Farm Defenders to Eduardo Rivera of Sin Fronteras Farm and Food on Sat. March 11th 6:00 pm at UW-Madison’s Union South as Part of the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival!

For Immediate Release: 3/3/17
Contact: John E. Peck, executive director, Family Farm Defenders #608-260-0900
EduardoSinFronteraSixth Annual John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize will be Awarded by Family Farm Defenders to Eduardo Rivera of Sin Fronteras Farm and Food on Sat. March 11th 6:00 pm at UW-Madison’s Union South as Part of the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival!
Family Farm Defenders is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize: Eduardo Rivera of Sin Fronteras Farm and Food! Eduardo is a young immigrant from Zacatecas, Mexico, who’s dream is to one day own his own farm. Currently, he must commute an hour to his leased land near Stillwater, MN, where he grows wholesale produce for sale to many Twin City co-ops, and also offers a culturally appropriate CSA for the Latin@ community. He serves on the board of the National Young Farmers Coalition and was recently profiled in a New York Times 4/25/16 article titled “Growing Organics Sin Fronteras.”  For a video about Sin Fronteras visit: rmM9GH9xdSk
Eduardo will be receiving a $2000 cash prize, as well as a local food fair trade gift basket, at an award dinner to be held on Sat. March 11th at 6:00 pm at UW-Madison’s Union South – Varsity Hall. The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony is Dr. Martin Reinhardt, Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe and Associate Professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University who will be speaking on “Decolonizing the Diet.”
The Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize is named after FFD founder and longtime president, John Kinsman, who dedicated his life to advocating for family farming and food sovereignty. John passed away in Jan. 2014, but Family Farm Defenders is extremely proud to continue this award in his honor and to further his legacy.  Many members of the extended Kinsman family will be in attendance at this year’s award dinner.
Previous prize winners include in 2011: Lindsey Morris Carpenter of Grassroots Farm, near Monroe, WI, and Daniel and Hannah Miller of Easy Yoke Farm near Millville MN;  in 2012:  Nancy and Jeff Kirstein, Good Earth Farm, Lennox SD and Tracy and Dick Vinz, Olden Produce, Ripon, WI; in 2014:  Blain Snipstal of Five Seeds Farm near Sparks, MD and Jed Schenkier and Will Pool of Loud Grade Produce Squad in Chicago, IL; in 2015: Carsten Thomas from Moorhead, MN and Emmet Fisher and Cella Langer with Oxheart Farm near Mt. Horeb, WI; and in 2016: Donald (Jahi) Ellis from Vidalia, GA and Polly Dalton and Oren Jakobson with Field Notes Farm near Custer, WI.
Other Food Sovereignty Symposium events before the dinner will also feature FFD speakers, such as the Wed. March 8th 7:00 pm screening of the film, Seed, the Untold Story, with a followup discussion with John Peck, FFD executive director; Sat. March 11th 1:00 pm Food Sovereignty and the WI Idea panel with organic dairy farmer and FFD board member, Jim Goodman, as well as the Sat. March 11th 3:00 pm Leadership for Food Sovereignty panel with Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch and FFD board member.
For a complete schedule of events, please visit:
Conference is free, but tickets are required for the meals featuring native foods (students half price).
Advance registration closes on Mon. March 6th.
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Join FFD for the 6th Annual John Kinsman Prize Award on Sat. March 11th at UW-Madison, held in conjunction with the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival!

cropped-cornThis year’s 6th Annual John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize Award Ceremony will be held on Sat. March 11th at UW-Madison’s Union South, Varsity Hall, with a reception at 5:30 pm and award dinner at 6:00 pm  Tickets for the award banquet are $35 and can be purchased online at:
This year’s award dinner is being held in conjunction with a much larger and exciting first ever Food Sovereignty Symposium and Festival, being held at various UW-Madison venues and other Madison locations over the course of the week of March 7th – 12th.
For a full schedule of events, please visit:
The symposium focuses on ways that communities and individuals seek to control and manage their food systems, including food sovereignty issues for Wisconsin’s American Indian communities.   The festival celebrates Indigenous, local, and regional foods, with a variety of special meals and movies throughout the week.   Highlights include:
Tues. March 7th – 7:00 pm Food Sovereignty Film Shorts, Union South Marquee Theater
Wed. March 8th – 7:00 pm  Madison Premier of Seed – The Untold Story, Union South Marquee Theater
Fri. March 10th – 9:30 am morning session on Genetic sovereignty: seeds, breeds and wild species
Fri. March 10th – 1:00 pm afternoon session on Food Sovereignty and the Law
Fri. March 10th – Native Fish Fry
Sat. March 11th – 10:00 am small plates brunch, and morning keynotes by Rowen White, Seed Keeper from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and Elizabeth Hoover, Dept. of American Studies at Brown University
Sat. March 11th – 1:00 and 3:30 pm afternoon sessions on:  Food Sovereignty and the Wisconsin Idea; Access to Land, Markets, and Food; Health and Food Sovereignty; Cuisine of this Place; Food Sovereignty in Dane County; and Leadership for Food Sovereignty
Sat. March 11th 5:00 reception; 6:00 pm dinner and John Kinsman Prize awards with keynote address on Decolonizing Our Diet by Dr. Martin Reinhardt, Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Associate Professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University.
Sun. March 12th  8:00 – 10:00 am Family Farm Defenders Annual Meeting
Sun. March 12th 10:30 am  brunch and native chef panel
Hope you can join us and please spread the word!
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Family Farm Defenders is seeking nominations and sponsorships for the 2017 John Kinsman Beginning Farmer Food Sovereignty Prize!


Deadline to submit your nominee for the 2017 John Kinsman Prize is Jan. 16th!
The criteria to be nominated include: jk
Engaged in own farm for less than 5 years        
Small scale livestock and/or vegetable and/or fruit production
Market products locally
Practice sustainable management of natural resources
Promote healthy soil
Conserve biodiversity
Support food sovereignty principles
Winners of the prize will be honored at an award dinner held in conjunction with the Food Sovereignty Symposium and Celebration at UW-Madison on Sat. March 11th, 2017
Please send name(s) and complete contact information of your nominee(s) by Jan. 16th, 2017 to:
Family Farm Defenders PO Box 1772 Madison, WI 53701
Tel/Fax. 608-260-0900   or  email: 
Sponsors of the 2017 John Kinsman Prize will also receive mention in the celebration program, and any sponsorship donation over $100 will also receive two complimentary tickets to the award dinner itself.
Tax deductible donations to “Family Farm Defenders” can be sent to the address above.  You can also make an online donation through Razoo on our website:
Previous prize winners include: 2011: Lindsey Morris Carpenter of Grassroots Farm, near Monroe, WI, and Daniel and Hannah Miller of Easy Yoke Farm near Millville MN; in 2012: Nancy and Jeff Kirstein, Good Earth Farm, Lennox SD and Tracy and Dick Vinz, Olden Produce, Ripon, WI; 2014: Blain Snipstal of Five Seeds Farm near Sparks, MD and Jed Schenkier and Will Pool of Loud Grade Produce Squad in Chicago, IL; 2015 Carsten Thomas of Moorhead, MN and Polly Dalton and Oren Jakobson of Field Notes Farm near Amherst, WI; and in 2016 Donald (Jahi) Ellis from Vidalia, GA and Emmet Fisher and Cella Langer of Oxheart Farm near Mt. Horeb, WI.
Thanks for your support of food sovereignty and please spread the word!
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The Trans Pacific Partnership Will Not Help Struggling Farmers

By: Jim Goodman, FFD board member and dairy farmer near Wonewoc, WI

Jim Goodman at TPP protestA recent 10/26/16 Associated Press article ( noted that Wisconsin dairy producers “see nothing but advantages” if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) were passed during the final session of Congress.

A more accurate statement would be that some dairy producers see nothing but advantages. I am at a loss to understand how dairy producers would see any advantages to yet another “free trade” agreement. We have had a series of trade agreements over the past decades, all promising advantages for farmers, well, advantages for everyone, and I am waiting, when can we expect these advantages to come to fruition?

Do dairy farmers who support the passage of TPP assume it will mean increased money in their pockets? That would clearly be an advantage, but if the history of trade agreements is any indication of increased profits for farmers, they may be betting the farm on loosing odds.

Proponents of the TPP say it will open borders and increase exports of US dairy products, but increasing farm exports does not equate with increased farmer profit. Increased exports will, however, mean higher profits for multinational corporations who, in essence, wrote the text of TPP.

Economist Mark Stephenson at the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability notes that “we’d have the opportunity to sell, we would also have to open our borders” “dairy is a major focus for all the players”. And, one might ask, why assume that the “other players” in TPP are not continuing to build their own dairy production capabilities? Do they need or will they even want our exports?

Trade does go both ways, and US dairy farmers should be wary of opening US borders to more dairy imports from say, New Zealand, where low cost dairy production has been taken to an art form. The National Milk Producers Federation tells us that US dairy farmers will loose billions of dollars to New Zealand’s dairy imports under TPP–-not a good deal.

And its not just dairy, when beef prices rose to a point where US producers were able to make a profit, USDA allowed increased imports from South America and Africa, (including areas with endemic foot and mouth disease) to drive down US farm prices. TPP will make unrestricted imports a regular occurrence.

TPP has very little to do with free trade, we already have trade agreements with 6 of the other 11 countries that are part of the TPP. Trade barriers are already very low, so if these countries wanted to import more US dairy products or anything else, there is little to stop them.

TPP is really about protectionism, protecting the global corporations that profit by moving goods around the world, buying low and selling high. Producers (be they farmers or factory workers) in the global economy seldom sell their product to the end user, that is done by the middle-man, the multinational corporations. These multinational giants ultimately take any available profit and continue the trend of redistribution of wealth upward at the expense of those on the bottom and the few who remain in the middle.

It makes little sense for US dairy farmers to continue to increase milk production when farm-gate prices are below the cost of production, yet that is what we are told we must do— continue to produce and look for foreign markets to dump our surplus and hope for a little profit.

Fair farm prices, ending imports of low priced foreign dairy components, encouraging local, regional and national markets that are fairly and honestly regulated, and an end to the get big or get out mentality that has fostered the consolidation of agriculture and decline of rural America, that would seem to be a more sensible path.

If dairy farmers really believe that their only path to profitability lies in following the advice of the agribusiness industry –- to grow, produce more, get more efficient, if they truly believe in the neo-liberal economic model, if they wish to believe that they can prosper and “call the shots” in a global economy controlled by multinational corporations— well, good luck.

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