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Trump's EPA Urged to Reject Expansion of Dangerous Pesticide Dicamba to Millions of Acres of Corn

April 17, 2019
Center for Food Safety

Trump's EPA Urged to Reject Expansion of Dangerous Pesticide Dicamba to Millions of Acres of Corn

Monsanto Seeks to Maximize Profits at Cost of Still More Devastating Dicamba Drift Damage to Crops and Wild Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty groups representing farmers, farmworkers, rural communities, public safety workers, and environmental advocates today urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny Monsanto's request to allow the spraying of the highly drift-prone pesticide dicamba on up to 80 million acres of genetically engineered corn.

The organizations submitted comments to the EPA in response to Monsanto's application, which seeks to more than double the area where dicamba can be sprayed. If the request is approved, the dangerous pesticide's use will expand from 60 million acres of fields in 2019 to an estimated 140 million acres.

Over the past three years, spray, and vapor drift from dicamba sprayed on Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) cotton and soy has damaged an estimated 5 million acres of crops, trees, vegetable farms, backyard gardens, and flowering plants — drift damage on a scale that agronomists say is unprecedented in the history of agriculture.

EPA enabled the drift debacle by approving use of dicamba on soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to survive its effects. The new application seeks EPA approval of expanded use on Monsanto's GE dicamba-resistant corn. It also aims to raise the legally permissible levels of the pesticide's residues in or on corn fodder.

"EPA's reckless dicamba approvals have not only resulted in enormous crop damage—putting farmers' livelihoods at risk—they've also generated considerable strife in farming communities, making enemies of once friendly neighbors," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety. "EPA should reject Monsanto's bid to inflict still more harm on rural America through dicamba use on GE corn, and reverse its existing approvals for application to GE soybeans and cotton," he added.

"The dangerous, uncontrollable poison is so thick in the air in some towns in America's heartland that the trees lining Main Street are suddenly dying," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's grossly immoral that Monsanto's new owners want to risk expanding dicamba's devastation."

In addition to the damage that dicamba has caused to crops, trees and backyard gardens in rural communities, there is increased concern about its harm to pollinators and insects that rely on diverse plant communities in agricultural regions.   

The Center for Food Safety and other farm and environmental groups are suing EPA over the Agency's approval of Monsanto's dicamba formulation, XtendiMax, for use on the company's GE crops, contending the approvals violate both federal pesticide law and the Endangered Species Act.

The groups that signed the letter in opposition to the expansion are the National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association, Farmworker Association of Florida, Center for Environmental Health, National Family Farm Coalition, Toxic Free NC, Prairie Rivers Network, The Land Connection, People and Pollinators Action Network, Kansas Rural Center, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, Earth's New Ways, Savanna Institute, Midwest Agroforestry Solutions, Basil's Harvest, Pollinator Stewardship Council, Pollinate Minnesota, Liberty Prairie Foundation, Save Our Crops Coalition, Iowa Organic Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Biofuelwatch, GMWatch, Global Justice Ecology Project, Institute for Responsible Technology, Beyond Pesticides, Organic Farmers Association, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, Center for Food Safety, and Center for Biological Diversity.

The Trump administration recently issued the final approval for the acquisition of Monsanto by German pharmaceutical and agrochemical giant Bayer AG.

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