Published: October 3, 2022

Category: Pesticides, The Non-GMO Blog

In August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its required risk assessment of the widely used weedkiller dicamba. While acknowledging unprecedented drift damage to crops and non-target plants, the agency stopped short of banning the chemical.

Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety calls the recent assessment “schizophrenic.” “EPA must end all over-the-top registrations of dicamba herbicides,” he said. Freese noted that EPA’s dicamba modeling is worthless, minimizing over-the-top spraying in the summer heat.

In 2020, the EPA took measures to minimize drift by establishing larger buffer zones and a buffering agent to reduce volatility; neither was effective at reducing off-target incidents.

The drift damage was so extensive that a federal court stepped in to revoke OTT dicamba registrations in 2020, in a lawsuit brought by Center for Food Safety (CFS) and farmers, only for the Trump EPA to resurrect the herbicide four months later. CFS’s challenge to that unlawful decision is underway.

“As long as we have dicamba, it’s not a question of if we ever will see off-target injury in a year—the only unknown is how extensive it will be,” Aaron Hager of the University of Illinois said.

EPA is reviewing whether “OTT dicamba can be used in a manner that does not pose unreasonable risks” to non-target crops and plants. A public comment period extends through mid-October 2022.

Sources: Center for Food Safety; The Fern; DTN/Progressive Farmer)

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights October 2022