On October 27, the EPA announced the re-approval of the herbicide dicamba for use on genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton – to the horror of environmentalists. The ruling came just four months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revoked 2018 approvals for the same chemical as the Center for Food Safety described it as “well-documented harm and widespread harm to U.S. agriculture.”
“Just before the election, the EPA hastened re-approval as a political backer and sentenced farmers and the environment to another five years of unacceptable harm,” writes George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, in a press release.
Indeed, the damage in question is far-reaching. Dicamba was originally developed in response to widespread resistance to glyphosate, another dangerous and carcinogenic herbicide sold by Monsanto. And while glyphosate is certainly dangerous, dicamba could be worse, causing what agronomists believe is the greatest drift damage in American agriculture history. In just four years, the herbicide destroyed at least five million acres of soybeans, as well as other crops and natural areas, and a lawsuit filed last year alleged that Monsanto violated antitrust laws in releasing the chemical produced) resistant GMO seeds, otherwise there is a risk that they will lose their entire harvest. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health also found that dicamba can be carcinogenic.
These and other questions led the appeals court to rule that Dicamba should never have been approved by the federal government in June. However, BASF and Bayer, the latter of which bought Monsanto in 2018, argue that new additives can reduce the risk of drift and make re-approval a safe choice.
However, experts remain skeptical.
“Given that EPA-approved versions of dicamba have already damaged millions of acres of US crops and natural areas, there’s no reason to believe the agency got it right this time around,” said Nathan Donley, senior scientist at Center for Biological Diversity. “At this point, the EPA has shown such indifferent indifference to the damage dicamba has caused to farmers and wildlife alike, and has been so desperate to appease the pesticide industry that it has no credibility with pesticide safety.”
“Past is prologue, as Shakespeare said,” he tells Organic Authority. “There’s no reason to believe you this time, if you’ve lied / failed the last three times.”
Kimbrell notes that the Food Safety Center will analyze the new findings from Bayer and BASF, something that independent government scientists could not do before re-approval.
“Otherwise we just have to take Monsanto’s word for it,” he says. “And of course they have a strong economic incentive to re-approve it, regardless of the cost to farmers or the environment.”
The announcement is not only economic but also political. Kimbrell notes that the decision was announced a few days before the US presidential election on a farm field in Georgia. Georgia, long a “Republican stronghold,” according to the New York Times, has become “an unlikely battlefield in both the presidential race and the fight for control of the Senate” this year.
“It was a political prop and it was quick to be,” says Kimbrell. “And in general, the decision is part of a series of other Trump administrative decisions that basically give the go-ahead for any toxic pesticide on the way to the door, regardless of the consequences.”
Based on bio-authority
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