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U.S. PIRG Toxics Program Director
303-573-5995, ext. 329
U.S. PIRG Field Organizer
Washington, D.C.: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced today that they will be limiting the use of the herbicide dicamba. U.S. PIRG Education Fund 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.
Under this new deal the EPA is requiring dicamba products to be labeled as “restricted use,” beginning with the 2018 growing season. These new rules will limit when and how the pesticide will be sprayed - taking into account the time of day and the wind speed (winds below 10 MPH.) Farmers will now also be required to maintain specific records showing their compliance with the new restrictions.
These new requirements come at a time when many farmers have begun reporting total crop loss from drifting dicamba. Last year in Arkansas, of the one million acres of dicamba ready soybeans planted, 200,000 acres 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.
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.”
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