Quantcast

Trump's EPA Sides With Monsanto, Extends Dicamba​ 2 More Years

GMO
At David Wildy's soybean fields in Arkansas, soybean plants planted in April 2017 (left) show signs of being impacted by dicamba. Soybean plants planted later in the season (right) stand taller. The Washington Post / Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it would allow farmers to continue spraying the controversial pesticide dicamba for the next two years. Dicamba is sold by Monsanto to be used on soybean and cotton plants genetically engineered to be resistant to the weedkiller. The problem is that it drifts on the wind, harming non-resistant crops and wild plants. Over the past two years, it damaged around five million acres of crops, trees and gardens, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said.


The approval does come with new restrictions, but experts and activists say they are not enough.

"The Trump EPA's reckless re-approval of this dangerous poison ignores the facts on the ground and damage across millions of acres," CBD senior scientist Nathan Donley said. "Simply adding more use restrictions to an uncontrollable pesticide that already comes with 39 pages of instructions and limitations reflects a broken process. Pesticide regulation has been hijacked by pesticide makers."

New restrictions, according to CBD and NPR, include:

  1. Only certified applicators will be able to spray the pesticide.
  2. For soybeans, spraying will have to end 45 days after planting.
  3. For cotton, spraying will have to end 60 days after planting.
  4. There must be a 57 foot spraying buffer around fields where endangered species may be present.
  5. Spraying will only be allowed during certain times of day.

Iowa State University weed specialist Bob Hartzler wrote a breakdown of the new regulations and how effective he thought they might be.

"Unfortunately, I don't think these new restrictions will have a significant impact on the problems we've seen the past two years," he concluded.

Dicamba is a controversial issue for farmers, NPR reported. Some swear by it, while others feel pressured to buy only Dicamba-tolerant seeds or risk having their crops damaged by spraying nearby.

The whole set-up is a major coup for Monsanto, as NPR explained:

Dicamba has been a huge success for Monsanto, the company that sells both dicamba-tolerant seeds and a version of the herbicide that's specially formulated for use on them. This past year, dicamba-tolerant seeds were planted on some 40 million acres, representing close to half of all soybeans and cotton in the United States. Bayer, the German company that now owns Monsanto, expects that total to grow to 60 million acres in 2019.

But independent soybean sellers Beck's Hybrids and Stine Seed have pushed the EPA for further restrictions, arguing that farmers should have a real choice between seeds, one that isn't born out of fear.

It's not just non-Monsanto crops that are at risk. CBD warned that dicamba could further harm already vulnerable wildlife like monarch butterflies. A CBD report found that more than 60 million acres of monarch habitat will be sprayed with dicamba by next year, threatening both the flowering plants needed by the migrating adult butterflies and the milkweed that is the caterpillars' only food source.

"It's going to take far stronger action to curb dicamba's well-documented dangers to non-target plants and wildlife like monarch butterflies," Donley said.

There is currently a lawsuit challenging the EPA's original approval of dicamba, but it has not been decided yet, NPR reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.

Read More Show Less
Covering Climate Now / YouTube screenshot

By Mark Hertsgaard

The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A new rule that ends limits for hog slaughtering speeds could increase animal suffering, advocates warn. kickers / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new hog slaughtering rule Tuesday that environmental and food safety advocates warn could harm animals, plant workers and public health, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Prehistoric and historic walrus skulls, tusks and bone fragments often wash ashore on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland. Hilmar J. Malmquist

A unique subpopulation of ancient walrus in Iceland was likely hunted to extinction by Vikings shortly after arrival to the region, according to new research.

Read More Show Less
Drivers make their way on the US 101 freeway on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

In its latest move to undermine action on the climate crisis, the Trump administration will formally rescind California's waiver to set stricter auto emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Brazilians living in The Netherlands organized a demonstration in solidarity with rainforest protectors and against the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on Sept. 1 in The Hague, Netherlands. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Tara Smith

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.

Read More Show Less
Author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaking on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2018. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Natalie Hanman

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

Read More Show Less
This illustration can convey a representation of "eco-anxiety" — "chronic fear of environmental doom." AD_Images / Pixabay

As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from 'eco-anxiety,' which the American Psychological Association described as a "chronic fear of environmental doom," as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less