For Immediate Release, April 1, 2016
Contact: Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406, firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA Set to Approve Use of Toxic Pesticide Dicamba for Newest GE Crops
Agency Opens Door to Massive Increase in Pesticide Use, Fails to Examine Threat to Endangered Species
PORTLAND, Ore.— The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan today to approve the use of dicamba on cotton and soybeans that are genetically engineered to tolerate the pesticide. Dicamba has been around for decades, but this new EPA decision would allow the herbicide to be sprayed directly on cotton and soybean crops – opening the door for annual dicamba use to jump from less than 1 million pounds to more than 25 million on these two crops.
The EPA, however, has admitted that every single taxon of threatened and endangered species – including birds, plants, amphibians and mammals – may be harmed by the massive increase in dicamba use. The agency has not yet complied with its obligation to consider impacts to these species under the Endangered Species Act.
“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 Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Iconic species like endangered whooping cranes are known to visit soybean fields, for instance, and now they’d be exposed to this toxic herbicide at levels they’ve never seen before.”
Monsanto’s own conservative estimates predict that dicamba use on soybeans would go from 233,000 pounds per year to 20.5 million pounds per year and dicamba use on cotton could go from 364,000 pounds per year to 5.2 million pounds per year. Today’s proposal covers 34 states.
This next generation of crops has been genetically engineered to resist dicamba because the use of crops genetically engineered to resist glyphosate has resulted in the development of glyphosate tolerant superweeds, which now infest nearly 100 million acres of farmland in the United States.
“We can’t spray our way out of this problem. We need to get off the pesticide treadmill,” said Donley. “Pesticide resistant superweeds are a serious threat to our farmers and piling on more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more pesticides. We can’t fight evolution — it’s a losing strategy.”
“I wish that today’s approval was just a bad April Fool’s Day joke, but the reality is that the EPA and USDA routinely make decisions that facilitate the overuse of pesticides, and these decisions are having tremendous negative consequences on the health of the planet and all its inhabitants,” said Donley. “It’s time to take a step back and reassess how we produce our food.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.