FERN/Reveal investigation shows EPA ignored decades of science on dicamba drift

A new investigation by FERN and Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, finds that the EPA “ignored scientists’ warnings and extensive research that showed dicamba would evaporate into the air and ruin crops miles away, according to documents obtained through public records requests and lawsuits. Instead, the EPA’s approval was based on studies by the companies that manufacture dicamba, which independent scientists say were seriously flawed. One scientist called the studies ‘shockingly insufficient.'”

After being used for decades only on corn and other grass crops, which tolerate it, dicamba use skyrocketed in recent years after Monsanto began marketing new cotton and soybean seeds that were genetically modified to resist the weedkiller. Those seeds were worth $3 billion to the company last year, writes Liza Gross.

“As farmers sprayed these [GM] crops in 2017 and 2018, scientists estimated that dicamba had damaged nearly 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, mostly Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois,” Gross says. “No one tracks damage to specialty crops such as tomatoes or home gardens, trees and wild plants. Only two crops have been engineered to resist dicamba: soybeans and cotton. Every other broadleaf plant, including non-genetically modified soybeans and cotton, is at risk.”

Despite the widespread damage, the EPA recently extended the weedkiller’s approval for two more years.