Illegal approval of dicamba use on engineered crops will harm farmers, environment
WASHINGTON – Farmers and conservation groups filed a federal lawsuit on Fridaychallenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Monsanto’s new “XtendiMax” pesticide. The approval of the pesticide company’s latest version of the older weed-killer known as dicamba permits it to be sprayed directly on Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton. The decision greenlights a more than 10-fold increase in use of the toxic pesticide, increasing risks to farmers, community health, and the environment. Because these same crops are also engineered to withstand applications of Monsanto’s Roundup, the overuse of that pesticide (containing the active ingredient glyphosate) will continue at current high levels.
“Federal regulators have abandoned the interests of farmers, the environment, and public health,” said George Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case. “We won’t allow our food to be dragged backward into a pesticide-soaked nightmare – not without a hell of a fight.”
Dicamba is linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects, while glyphosate was recently classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization. Farmers are extremely alarmed by dicamba’s propensity to drift and damage neighboring crops, while conservationists are concerned about its impacts to biodiversity. Dicamba drift threatens plants that provide nectar for pollinators and habitat for animals, and it is frequently detected in surface waters.
“Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops created an environmental disaster by causing infestation of tens of millions of acres of farmland with herbicide-resistant weeds and spurring an enormous increase in pesticide use,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. “Planting more GE crops and dousing them with more noxious chemicals isn’t the answer. The Environmental Protection Agency should be protecting health and the environment, not Monsanto’s profits.”