Amidst the election turmoil of the last few weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quietly approved more harmful pesticide products for use with genetically engineered (GE) seeds.
EPA put Dow's "Enlist Duo" cocktail of glyphosate and 2,4-D back on the market, after pulling it off just a year ago due to widespread concern. The agency also gave a green light to Monsanto's new formulation of dicamba, intended for use with the corporation's latest line of GE soy and cotton crops. Both approvals mean a dramatic increase in the use of health-harming herbicides on farmland across the country.
Enlist Duo coming to a field near you
Dow marketed the Enlist Duo formulation as a
solution to tackle glyphosate-resistant “superweeds”
that have emerged in the wake of widespread use
of Monsanto's RoundUp.
Both key ingredients in this herbicide concoction
known to drift from the fields where they're applied to
neighboring homes and farms.2,4-D
has been linked to birth defects and cancer, and
is particulalry damaging
to non-target plants. And glyphosate is under increasing
scrutiny since UN scientists determined it to be a "probable
carcinogen" last year.
In the face of huge public opposition, EPA
approved Enlist Duo for use in a limited number of states
in 2014. Theagency
withdrewits approval a year later,
under pressure from a legal petition filed by PAN and
our partners at Center for Food Safety that challenged
the agency's oversight ofsynergistic
the glyphosate and 2,4-D.
But on November 1, EPA re-approved and expanded
use of Enlist Duo. It is now authorized for use with Dow's
GE corn, soy and cotton in 34 states — up from 15 states
— where the product was previously approved only for
corn and soy.
In the words of Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PAN senior
Once again, EPA has failed to protect the health,
and livelihood of America’s farmers and rural communities.
The agency’s decision dramatically increases the risk of
pesticide drift causing severe crop losses and harms to
human health." Monsanto's "new" dicamba
Just a week after re-approving Enlist Duo, EPA
new formulationof an old herbicide
onto the market: dicamba.
Dicamba is notorious fordrifting onto neighboring fields and damaging crops, so Monsanto has been pushing for
a "new formulation" that is theoretically less prone to drift.
This past summer, some conventional farmers — desperate
to fight superweeds — bought Monsanto’s new dicamba-
resistant seeds (approved last year) and then illegally
sprayed an old version of dicamba. The result? Neighboring
farms that hadn’t planted dicamba-resistant seeds experienced extensive
damageto soybeans, as well as other non-target
crops like peaches, tomatoes, rice, cotton and alfalfa.
Monsanto claims its new version of dicamba is less
although farmers, scientists and environmentalists alike are deeply
concernedabout the lack of scientific
this assertion. Aside from this, the older formulation will still be
cheaper. To avoid potential crop damage, many farmers will be
forced to buy dicamba-resistant seeds just to protect themselves
from neighboring drift.
For PAN, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman shares her thoughts,
her concern for farmers:
The biotech industry’s herbicide-promoting GE
brought farmers higher input costs, greater exposure to
hazardous pesticides, an epidemic of superweeds — and
thousands of acres of drift-damaged crops. Yet once again,
EPA appears more willing to shore up Monsanto’s profits
than defend the public interest.
President Obama and his EPA should leave a lasting
for America’s farmers and agricultural communities by taking
these harmful products off the shelf and providing meaningful
solutions in sustainable and ecological pest management,
rather than yet another acceleration of the pesticide treadmill.”
The incoming President isshowing
signsthat he will put even
more control of our public agencies in the hands of corporations.
But we at Pesticide Action Network remain steadfast in our
commitment to protect the health and well-being of farmers,
workers and rural communities most directly impacted by