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EPA’s Greenlight for Dicamba Herbicides Poses Serious Risks to People, Wildlife

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The EPA’s decision to reauthorize the use of dicamba herbicides, despite strong evidence that they cause extensive off-target damage to crops, native plants, pollinators and other wildlife, poses serious risks for people, native plants, and wildlife alike. The National Wildlife Federation, Prairie Rivers Network and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation strongly condemned the EPA’s decision to renew the registrations of dicamba herbicides for the next five years and urged the agency to reverse course. 

“Dicamba herbicides pose significant threats to wild plants and the wildlife that depend upon them — even when used as prescribed on their labels. The EPA’s decision to renew dicamba’s registration despite evidence that it causes off-target injury to crops and native plants is wildly irresponsible,” said Lekha Knuffman, agriculture program specialist at the National Wildlife Federation. “The EPA should reconsider this decision given how widespread use of dicamba throughout the growing season is harming other crops as well as wild and native plants, degrading food sources for wildlife and pollinators.”

“As EPA has abandoned its charge to protect the environment, this decision to re-register dicamba is not surprising,” said Kim Erndt-Pitcher, habitat and agriculture programs specialist at Prairie Rivers Network. “Nevertheless, it is still a very sad day to see the agency that is tasked with protecting the environment instead approving herbicides that are causing widespread harm to crops, private and public property, and wildlife habitat. It is time to end our over-reliance on chemicals and promote more diverse methods of weed control that help farmers in the long run and better protect our environment.”

This decision comes after a recent report was released by the National Wildlife Federation, Prairie Rivers Network and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation detailing how dicamba herbicides pose serious threats to wild plants and the wildlife that depend upon them. The report, Drifting Toward Disaster: How Dicamba Herbicides are Harming Cultivated and Wild Landscapes, focuses on the far-reaching impacts of dicamba use.

“The widespread injury to crops, wild plant communities, and wildlife from dicamba herbicides is unacceptable,” said Emily May, pollinator conservation specialist with the Pesticide Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “Continuing down the unsustainable path of herbicide-only weed control will harm both farmers and wildlife. We should be seeking long-term solutions to reduce reliance on herbicides and build more ecologically and economically resilient farm landscapes. Diversifying weed management strategies beyond herbicides to improve resilience, including incorporating mechanical weed management tools and techniques, adjusting planting dates and depths of crops to help get ahead of weed growth, and managing nutrients in ways that give crops the competitive edge are all better solutions than using volatile herbicides that can drift far from where they’re applied.”

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