EPA softened dicamba restrictions on basis of Monsanto research
Published: April 4, 2018
Category: Pesticide Hazards, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
In November 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved new formulas of dicamba herbicide based on misleading research by Monsanto, maker of one of the new formulas. The result was a dicamba drift disaster of historic proportions—3.6 million acres of soybeans, trees, fruit and vegetable crops damaged.
In March 2016, the EPA had proposed an all-direction 100-foot buffer zone for dicamba applications. If dicamba is sprayed at higher concentrations, the buffer would be increased to 220 feet.
Following the EPA’s proposal, Monsanto submitted data to the EPA on dicamba drift—from studies done in Georgia and Texas, which later experienced zero drift complaints in 2017, showing minimal drift and volatilization by dicamba. States that experienced the worse dicamba drift were Arkansas and Missouri.
On the basis of those studies, EPA said that the all-direction 100-foot buffer was “no longer warranted,” and in November 2016, the agency proposed a 110-foot downwind buffer, meaning that applicators could not spray dicamba within 110 feet of the edge of a field.
EPA Spokesman Robert Daguillard claimed the new information from Monsanto research “altered the final decision.” But University of Arkansas found dicamba drifts up to 220 feet in 2017.
In the final registration approving the use of dicamba in November 2016, the EPA wrote: “The EPA expects that exposure will remain confined to the dicamba treated field.”
The agency’s expectation was completely wrong. In 2017, dicamba drift damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybeans; it also damaged oak trees, wildlife habitats, vineyards, and other crops in the Midwest and the South, leading to multiple drift damage complaints filed.
Source: Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting