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Dicamba

also see bee die-offpesticide driftLegal/Litigation, Legislation/Regulatory/USA, glyphosate

As of 12 February 2020, there are 104 dicamba pesticide products registered in Canada: 16 domestic products for use on lawns (e.g. KIllex, Weedex) usually mixed in with 2,4-D and mecoprop, 59 commercial products (including lawn care and agricultural products), 21 manufacturing concentrates and 8 technical actives. Searching for both dicamba and glyphosate at the same time, it does not appear that any products are registered. Searching for  XtendiMax reveals 1 registered product by  Monsanto Canada in 2015.   XtendiMax  is supposed to contain a less volatile form of dicamba. Therefore, most of  the Canadian registered products likely contain the more volatile form, even when used in agriculture. I suspect they would cause similar amount of damage if their use was as widespread and if Canadians went to court as much as Americans. According to Farmtario 'Dicamba takes legal hit in U.S.' (June 4, 2020)," Most use of dicamba-tolerant crops in Canada has been pre-plant, although there have been some dicamba drift cases here, especially in vegetable crops." 

Glyphosate and Other Weed Killers Create Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Agricultural Soils   (Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2021) 'Soil sprayed with weedkillers glyphosateglufosinate, or dicamba are likely to contain higher amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to research published earlier this month in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people develop an antibiotic resistant infection, and over 23,000 die. Authors of the study say widespread herbicide use is likely playing a role. “Our results suggest that the use of herbicides could indirectly drive antibiotic resistance evolution in agricultural soil microbiomes, which are repeatedly exposed to herbicides during weed control,” said Ville Friman, PhD of the University of York in the United Kingdom.   Contrary to the pesticide industry’s claim that these chemicals break down quickly and become inert by binding to soil particles, large proportions of the herbicides remained in the soil at the end of the 60-day experiment, stemming back from the first application. For glyphosate 18% remained, glufosinate 21%, and dicamba 34%.  .. scientists determined that herbicide exposure triggers evolutionary pressures on bacteria similar to those exposed to antibiotics...  “Interestingly, antibiotic resistance genes were favoured at herbicide concentrations that were not lethal to bacteria,” said Dr. Friman. “This shows that already very low levels of herbicides could significantly change the genetic composition of soil bacterial populations. Such effects are currently missed by ecotoxicological risk assessments, which do not consider evolutionary consequences of prolonged chemical application at the level of microbial communities.”    'The field '(s)amples matched up closely to the results of the microcosm experiment:'

Court Victory on Three Dicamba Weed Killers Underscores the Need to Reform Pesticide Law  (Beyond Pesticides, June 17, 2020) The June 3 decision in a high-profile “dicamba case” — against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for the plaintiffs, a coalition of conservation groups — was huge news in environmental advocacy, agriculture, and agrochemical circles. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated EPA’s 2018 conditional registration of three dicamba weed killer products for use on an estimated 60 million acres of DT (dicamba-tolerant through genetic modification/engineering) soybeans and cotton. There is, however, a related issue that accompanies this and many other pesticide cases. When EPA decides to cancel or otherwise proscribe use of a pesticide (usually as a result of its demonstrated toxicity and/or damage during litigation), the agency will often allow pesticide manufacturers to continue to sell off “existing stocks” of a pesticide, or growers and applicators to continue to use whatever stock they have or can procure.'    SNAP Comment: The article also discusses other tacticsusedby the EPA  to deal with cancellation of pesticide uses while treading lightly on industry interests. The PMRA does the same in Canada. 

U.S. court blocks sales of Bayer weed killer (Reuters, 3 June, 2020)   SNAP Comment: I don't know what it means for this year's crops and gardens. When would the registration be cancelled? It ruled to ban sales, not use, likely because that is what the EPA is legally responsible for enforcing, like the PMRA. I suspect that the sales of dicamba-resistant seeds and dicamba products has already taken place this year. I do not believe this product is registered in Canada.     'Environmental groups have sought cancellation of the EPA’s approval of Monsanto’s dicamba-based XtendiMax herbicide, arguing it harms nearby plants and wildlife.  The court agreed, and its ruling also blocks sales of dicamba-based herbicides like BASF’s Engenia and Corteva Agriscience’s FeXapan.  A three-judge panel ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) substantially understated the risks related to the use of dicamba, a chemical found in herbicides sold by Bayer and rivals that are sprayed on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton.'

Study Finds an Association between Dicamba Use and Increased Risk of Developing Various Cancers   (Beyond Pesticides, May 21, 2020) 'Use of the herbicide dicamba increases humans’ risk of various acute and chronic cancers, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Over half (52.9%) of all pesticide applicators in the study use dicamba. Participants reporting dicamba use are at elevated risk of developing liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia at the highest exposure level. Additionally, dicamba exposure risks are associated with liver cancer and acute myeloid leukemia linger, as much as 20-years after chemical exposure.   Commercial dicamba use is widespread throughout the U.S., with research findings linking the chemical to neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, sensitization/irritation, birth/developmental defects, reproductive damage, and respiratory illnesses. The AHS analysis also associates dicamba use with colon and lung cancer. In addition to human health effects, studies find that dicamba adversely impacts ecological health, causing harm to birds; insects; fish; aquatic organisms; non-target plants; and pollinators, like beetles. Not only do laboratory studies indicate that dicamba alters animal liver function to promote tumor growth and cancer, but they also find that it induces oxidative stress and DNA mutations—all of which are conduits acknowledged to cause cancer. Lastly, extensive dicamba use can induce antibiotic resistance in human pathogens like Escherichia coli and Salmonella eterica. Despite dicamba’s various adverse health associations, it remains available for commercial use in agricultural and non-agricultural settings alike.

“Hey Farmer Farmer, Put Away that” Dicamba Weed Killer   (Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2020) US story. 'The weed killer dicamba has been blamed for killing or damaging millions of acres of non–genetically modified crops and other plants that have no protection against the compound.  This article 'round(s) up the plethora of recent news on dicamba': regulations, complaints, law suits, history, health effects.'   'Originally developed in the 1950s, dicamba is a benzoic acid herbicide that, when absorbed by plant tissue, ultimately causes the plant to outgrow its nutrient supply and die. Plants poisoned by dicamba typically exhibit curled, cup-shaped leaves, and often, stunted growth. Dicamba’s health effects on animal organisms can manifest as developmental, reproductive, neurological, hepatic, or renal harms. It also is a particular threat to birds, insects, fish, and aquatic organisms, as well as to non-target plants.'    'Dr. Ford Baldwin (a herbicide damage expert) who has previously testified on behalf of Monsanto and BASF), testified that “air in parts of the Midwest and South has become so contaminated with the weed killer dicamba that it has caused widespread damage to soybeans and other crops... It didn’t just come from one field.’” This happens because everyone sprays around the same time, dicamba evaporates, and there is an inversion, keeping the chemical near the ground overnight.   State agencies and laboratories cannot cope with the mumber of complaints and “meanwhile, because they’re fully occupied with dicamba complaints, inspectors don’t have time for all their other work, such as routine inspections of pesticide use at schools, golf courses or businesses. (NPR)  'The volume of complaints and losses associated with dicamba use has not moved the current EPA to address the compound’s toxicity in any significant way... But the EPA actually extended its approval of dicamba just a year ago, before the 2019 growing season. The agency decided the problems could be addressed with a few new restrictions on how and where dicamba can be sprayed, along with more training for people who use it... Those changes did not fix the problem, Reed says. ‘As a matter of fact, the complaint numbers went up’ in Indiana and several other states.”   'The 'EPA made a low-key announcement on March 19 suggesting that it may change its handling of requests from states to exert stricter controls on use of pesticides than the federal agency sets out in its registration of the compounds — by disapproving them. This issue of preemption of localities’ desires to protect their populations and environment has become an increasingly dynamic frontier at the nexus of pesticide use, health, and environment.'    SNAP Comment: It seems like the US EPA is treating dicamba like a public relations problem rather than a chemical one. Dicamba is volatile, period. The new regulations in place for spraying have not changed the number of complaints. If anything they are going up. So, the EPA's answer is to make it impossible for states to set up more stringent regulations? Really? This alone indicates an out of touch regulatory system. How can one trust a regulatory system that attempts to suppress evidence rather than taking into consideration in regulation? Keep that in mind when industry uses registration of a particular pesticide to imply safety.

'Victory for Farmers' as Jury Awards Grower $265 Million in Damages From Drift of Monsanto's Dicamba  (by Andrea Germanos, staff writer, Common Dreams, 17 February 2020)   'The jury sided with Bader Farms on Friday and awarded them $15 million in damages, as St. Louis Public Radio reported:   Monsanto and BASF were found liable for negligent design of the products and negligent failure to warn regarding the products. The jury also found that the two companies created a joint venture to manufacture and sell dicamba-resistant seed and low-volatility herbicides, and that they conspired to create an "ecological disaster" to increase profits.  Pesticide Action Network welcomed the development as well.  "This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg — there is a long queue of farmers who have been impacted by dicamba drift and deserve their day in court," said Linda Wells, Pesticide Action Network organizing director. "The internal Monsanto (now Bayer) documents uncovered in this case show that the company released a highly destructive and intentionally untested product onto the market, and used its influence to cheat the regulatory system."   "While farmers who don't use the Xtend system are hit with crop damage and yield loss from dicamba drift, Bayer and BASF are reaping the financial gains of an increase in acreage planted to dicamba resistant soybeans, and an increase in use of dicamba formulations," Wells continued. "Bader Farms' victory in this case signals a turning tide, and opens opportunities for farmers to hold Bayer and BASF legally accountable for the dicamba drift. also see Bader Farms Wins $265 Million in Lawsuit Against Bayer’s Monsanto, BASF   (Beyond Pesticides, February 20, 2020)

Farmer Takes Bayer/Monsanto to Court for  the productscausing all Crop Damage Caused by the Herbicide Dicamba  (Beyond Pesticides, February 6, 2020)  'Mr. Bader says that not only did he lose over 30,000 trees, his remaining peaches are now smaller and his trees are less productive. According to Bader, the damage has cost him $20.9 million for which he seeks restitution. The case is claiming that Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, and German partner company BASF knew that the sale of their products would result in crop damage due to drift, but sold dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean seeds anyway. The companies deny the claims.   The damage occurring was part of the plan,” said plaintiff attorney Billy Randles in an opening statement. “The damage was an essential element of selling this product.” Randles said that Monsanto could not control the product in their own greenhouse pointed to internal company discussions where the defendants “so thoroughly anticipated the problem” that they came up with a term for those who were impacted: “driftees.”    Steve Smith, the director of agriculture at world’s largest canned tomato processor, Red Gold Inc., testified at the trial that Monsanto had many warnings regarding the risk dicamba posed to farmers. Mr. Smith was a member of an advisory council to Monsanto on dicamba. “We told them (Monsanto) over and over again it was not a good idea,” said Smith in an interview with Sierra, “They keep saying it’s a matter of educating the growers. But the problem is not education; the problem is chemistry.”'

Dicamba Herbicide Poses Greater Threat of Drift when Mixed with Glyphosate  (Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2019) 'During a 60-hour window, scientists applied various GE dicamba products (Clarity and XtendiMax) over a range of temperatures and took air samples. As temperatures increased, so did the volatilization and drift of dicamba, even in formulations touted as “low volatility.”'  'Adding glyphosate to the mixture produced stark results, increasing concentrations of dicamba in the air up to nine times compared to dicamba alone... and research finds that even trace amounts of dicamba in the air, levels in the parts per million, can damage non-resistant crops.'   SNAP Comment: This research illustrates another failures of the US and Canadian regulatory system. This interaction was totally missed by only requiring testing these pesticides separately even though they are used in formulation.

Arkansas Tried to Restrict the Use of This Controversial Pesticide. Monsanto Fought Back and Won. Dicamba drift has damaged millions of dollars worth of crops, as well as wildflowers that honeybees rely on to produce honey. (LIZA GROSS, Mother Jones, MARCH 1, 2019)   'As reported last year by FERN and Reveal, dicamba has damaged millions of dollars worth of crops over the past two years, after the EPA dismissed scientists’ concerns and approved the weedkiller for new uses on soybean and cotton seeds that Monsanto engineered to tolerate it. It has also harmed trees, gardens, and the wildflowers bees need to thrive and produce honey. '

Beyond Damaging Crops, Dicamba is Dividing Communities (Civil Eats, BY VIRGINIA GEWIN, Nov 8 2018)  As the EPA extends use of the controversial herbicide for two more years, farmers continue to take sides, and the effects on rural America are snowballing.'As dicamba use increases, so does the likelihood of non-farmers reporting damage. The number of homeowners and individuals reporting damage to gardens, trees, shrubs, and lawns, definitely increased in 2018 compared to 2017, says Norsworthy. “As individuals become more educated about the symptoms, they are more likely to pick up the phone and report it,” he adds.'   SNAP Comment: Indeed. It is a concern that states are no longer reporting or even collecting incident occurrences. This does not serve the public, the farming community, and only increases the doubts cast on the regulatory environment.