EPA Issues End-Of-Year Report Regarding Dicamba Incidents and Damage

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, recently issued their 2021 report on dicamba usage, a topic that has been heavily debated throughout the agriculture field in recent years. Dicamba can be a damaging herbicide since it often drifts “rampantly to cause unprecedented levels of damage to neighbors’ crops and wild plants.” The EPA currently has regulations in place that allow for the over-the-top (OTT) spraying of the pesticides on crops that are genetically engineered to withstand them.

The document issued by the EPA was the first report of dicamba incidents since the government implemented their initiative to maintain “transparency and scientific integrity.” Despite new control measures being put in place as a part of the initiative, the 2021 report shows “little change in number, severity, or geographic extent of dicamba-related incidents” when compared to previous years that were not bound to control measures.

Further, the EPA notes that dicamba-related incidents may have been underreported in the 2021 report, meaning the actual number of incidents may be far greater. The EPA believes this underreporting comes mainly from farmers who simply do not report herbicide incidents to the EPA, considering a 2020 survey indicated that 45% of farmers experience “some level of herbicide drift” but only 6% report corresponding herbicide incidents.

The data from the 2021 dicamba incident report provides valuable insight for future growing seasons. The EPA notes in their report that they are unlikely to approve future requests for additional uses of dicamba given the severity of the 2021 report. Regarding their current regulation about OTT dicamba, they stated that they are “reviewing whether over-the-top dicamba can be used in a manner that does not pose unreasonable risks” and “evaluating all of its options.”

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) issued a subsequent press release following the EPA report where they spoke about the report and its implications. The CFS has recently led farming and environmental groups who are suing the EPA over their dicamba regulations. The science director at the organization, Bill Freese, argued that “Dicamba’s five-year trail of unprecedented devastation is more than enough evidence to ban all over-the-top uses now… farmers’ livelihoods, rural communities are at stake.”

Legal director George Kimbrell, further spoke on the report by stating that “this cowardice is contrary to EPA’s core legal duties and will leave farmers and the planet unprotected for yet another year in 2022.”