U.S. PIRG Toxics Program Director,
303-573-5995, ext. 329
U.S. PIRG Field Organizer
Washington, DC — Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allegedly suggested on a phone call that the agency is considering limiting the spraying of the dicamba herbicide. U.S. PIRG is in support of any EPA policy proposal that would limit or ban the use of this pesticide.
Dicamba is an herbicide used for weed control in soybeans and cotton crops. Monsanto introduced the use of the genetically modified dicamba-resistant seeds in 2016. Using these seeds, a farmer can spray the weed-killer directly onto the crop — killing the weeds but not the soybean plant. Dicamba-Ready crops, already in use and on the market, did not go through the regular independent testing procedures, and their approval went unchallenged by the EPA and many state regulators. After Dicamba-Ready seeds hit the market, the use of dicamba skyrocketed.
Immediately after approval, farmers began reporting total crop loss from drifting dicamba. Last year in Arkansas, of the one million acres of dicamba ready soybeans planted, 200,000 acres of the crops were damaged. Since mid July, at least 2.5 million acres have been damaged in this past growing season, according to the University of Missouri. And in response, Arkansas and Missouri put temporary bans on dicamba.
The EPA should now ban the use of dicamba. With little to no control of where the pesticide goes, it can have lasting effects on our crops. Public health is also at risk. With the chemicals spreading onto neighboring farms, we have no assurance that the pesticide is not also spreading to homes, schools and playgrounds as well.
Participants on a phone call with EPA officials last month addressed the concerns voiced by farmers. The EPA has not officially announced limiting the spraying of dicamba.
Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Toxics Director stated, “The EPA should ban the use of this pesticide. Dicamba spray is drifting over unknown acres of America, threatening the livelihood of farmers and the health of neighboring communities.”
U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.