Arizona court revokes EPA’s approval of dicamba pesticide in a ‘major victory for farmers and the environment’

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On the left, soybean plants on an Arkansas farm are damaged by dicamba, stunting growth, curling leaves, and reducing bean yield. On the right, soybean plants that were not exposed to dicamba and were planted later in the season stand taller than the plants on the left.Washington Post/Getty Images

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In a victory for farmers and endangered plants and wildlife, an Arizona district court rules in its approval of the destructive pesticide dicamba, saying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the law when it allowed it to be sold on the market. canceled.

Dicamba-based herbicides are widely used on soybean and cotton crops genetically modified by Bayer (formerly Monsanto), according to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the lawsuit.

“This is a critical victory for farmers and the environment,” George Kimbrel, legal director of the Center for Food Safety and an attorney in the case, said in a press release. “It has been proven time and time again that dicamba cannot be used without causing unprecedented damage to farms and endangering plants and pollinators. “We have proudly reaffirmed what we have always said: that EPA and Monsanto’s claims about the safety of dicamba are irresponsible and illegal.”

Dicamba tends to drift, damaging millions of acres of wild plants, animals, and crops where it was not intended. In 2017, the EPA first approved the use of this harmful pesticide on crops that have been genetically modified to withstand doses that would be lethal to other plants.

A federal district court ruling in Arizona overturned the EPA’s 2020 reauthorization of dicamba, which specified applicable restrictions that did not prevent damage from sustained drift.

EPA estimates that three-quarters of cotton crops and two-thirds of soybean crops (65 million acres) are resistant to dicamba. Approximately half of these acres were actually sprayed with the toxin.

Some farmers even plant crops “defensively” to avoid dicamba drift damage.

District court rules that EPA violates federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act It said the breach was “very serious” as it had been ruled against by the Court of Appeal. Significant risk of overusing dicamba during previous registration issuance.

“We hope that the court’s firm rejection of EPA’s reckless approval of dicamba will finally encourage EPA to stop ignoring the widespread harm caused by this dangerous pesticide.” said Nathan Donley, director of environmental health sciences at the Center for Diversity. press release. “If the EPA continues its pretzel-like chicanery of approving this product to appease the pesticide industry, the numbers of endangered butterflies and bees will continue to grow.”

The ruling pleased farmers whose crops cannot withstand the harsh effects of dicamba.

“Each summer since dicamba was approved, our farms have suffered significant damage to a wide range of vegetable crops,” said farmer Rob Faux, communications manager for the Pesticide Action Network, in a press release. mentioned in. “Today’s decision provides much-needed protections for farmers and the environment.”

The pesticide threatens endangered species like the rusty bumblebee. Beekeepers report sharp declines in honey production due to dicamba drift, which suppresses the flowering plants bees need to survive.

Lisa Griffiths, Outreach and Communications Coordinator for the National Federation of Family Farmers, said, “We hope the courts will hold the EPA and Monsanto accountable for the devastating damage caused by dicamba to farmers, farm workers, and the environment, and block its use. I’m grateful for that.” She said, “The insecticide systems sold by Monsanto cannot be safely applied and should not be applied.”

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