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U.S. PIRG Toxics Program Director,
303-573-5995, ext. 329
U.S. PIRG Field Organizer
Little Rock, Ark.: The Arkansas State Plant Board voted today to ban the pesticide dicamba for the 2018 planting season. The decision was based on advice from a task force composed of scientists, farmers and other experts. Arkansas came to the decision after a year of record crop losses caused by dicamba — during 2017, the state received more pesticide complaints than it ever has in one year.
Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Toxics Director, stated, “This is a big win for farmers affected by pesticide drift. We need to stop using unnecessary pesticides that poison our crops, fields, and possibly our health.”
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 1 million acres of Dicamba-Ready soybeans planted, 200,000 acres of the crops were damaged. New research from the University of Missouri found an estimated 900,000 acres of soybeans were damaged and nationally approximately 3.6 million acres were damaged by dicamba drift this year.
Researchers in Arkansas also discovered that dicamba attaches to dust in the air, allowing the weedkiller to travel 220 feet from where it is sprayed — twice the distance that the EPA requires farmers to use as a buffer zone to protect neighboring farms from dicamba drift.
Dicamba’s wide drift pattern is also a public health concern. Dicamba is a possible carcinogen, and is associated with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, reproductive problems, and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
This ban will go into effect on April 16, 2018. U.S. PIRG Education Fund and other groups are glad to see states addressing hazardous pesticide use and support other states who enact similar bans.
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