Dicamba debacle spreads to bees

The weedkiller dicamba, which has spurred conflict in farm country because of its damage to non-GMO crops, has spread to beekeepers, who say that the herbicide is depleting pollinator habitat and harming the bees, according to FERN’s latest story produced in collaboration with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

“Dicamba already has destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of non-genetically modified soybeans and specialty crops, such as tomatoes and wine grapes. And now it appears to be a major factor in large financial losses for beekeepers,” reports Liza Gross.

In October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended its approval of the weed killer for use on genetically modified soybeans and cotton, saying at the time: “We expect there will be no adverse impacts to bees or other pollinators.”

“But scientists warned the EPA years ago that dicamba would drift off fields and kill weeds that are vital to honeybees,” reports Gross. She quotes several beekeepers who sustained significant losses they attribute to use of the herbicide, including one company that was forced to move to a region where dicamba isn’t in widely used.

“It seems like everybody’s been affected,” said Bret Adee, whose family runs the nation’s largest beekeeping outfit, in South Dakota. He thinks 2018 might be “the smallest crop in the history of the United States for honey production.”