The chemical 2,4-D, is used in Enlist One and Enlist Duo, which are applied to fields with corn, soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to resist the herbicides. It is considered a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and, among other human health effects, is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects and respiratory problems.
The chemical is also thought to harm hundreds of endangered species including butterflies, birds, fish, deer, panthers and bats. It works by attacking the roots and leaves of weeds and causing them to produce unwanted cells, not unlike inducing cancer to kill or hobble it.
The suit also alleges the products’ approval threatens to increase the spread of new herbicide-resistant weeds because the EPA failed to properly mitigate risks, which will make it harder for farmers to manage troublesome weeds.