Ignoring the legal requirement to examine threats to endangered species, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved Wednesday the use of the dangerously toxic herbicide dicamba on crops genetically modified to tolerate the chemical.
Dicamba has been around for decades, but this new EPA decision allows the herbicide to be sprayed directly on genetically modified (GM) cotton and soybeans — opening the door for dicamba use to jump from less than 1 million pounds to more than 25 million annually on these two crops.
The scandalous decision comes on the heels of the agency’s recent decision to expand approval for a new pesticide called Enlist Duo, made for use on GM corn, cotton and soybeans.
“Once again the EPA is allowing for staggering increases in pesticide use that will undoubtedly harm our nation’s most imperiled plants and animals,” said Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Iconic species like endangered whooping cranes are known to visit soybean fields, and now they’d be exposed to this toxic herbicide at levels they’ve never seen before.”
In recent months dicamba has made headlines because its illegal use has caused extensive damage to crops in the Midwest due to spray drift. Although the approved dicamba has been formulated to reduce spray drift, the massive projection in increased use will be an ongoing cause for concern to the farming community.