Save Our Crops Requests Environmental Impact Statement

Group says new requests for dicamba use poses threat to non-target crops; requests hold on EPA approval

Published on: Sep 21, 2012

Save Our Crops Coalition today requested the Environmental Protection Agency submit itself to National Environmental Policy Act procedures, and prepare an environmental impact statement that considers herbicide use within the dicamba tolerant cropping system.

SOCC said they oppose Monsanto and BASF's efforts to register the use of dicamba on dicamba tolerant crops, and has also requested EPA withhold registrations until effective measures are in place to mitigate the effects of non-target plant damage.

In SOCC comments to the EPA, they said the registration of dicamba on dicamba tolerant crops, without effective mitigation measures, would significantly increase the risk of unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.

Group says new requests for dicamba use poses threat to non-target crops; requests hold on EPA approval for use
Group says new requests for dicamba use poses threat to non-target crops; requests hold on EPA approval for use

SOCC listed two objectives for the dicamba new use registration process:

First, SOCC seeks to encourage the use of only the lowest volatility formulations on dicamba tolerant crops. They say Monsanto has requested registration of the "older, cheaper, and more drift and volatility prone" Clarity dicamba formulation.  SOCC regards additional restrictions on the use of Clarity and generic formulations of dicamba as necessary to protect against drift and volatilization damage to non-target plants.

Second, SOCC seeks to ensure that, should dicamba be used, that it be used in a responsible manner.  SOCC still regards additional mitigation measures to protect against drift and volatilization damage to non-target plants caused by this new pattern of use.

Steve Smith, SOCC chairman, said dicamba is one of the nation's "most dangerous herbicides for non-target crop damage." He called on Monsanto and BASF to follow Dow AgroSciences in developing measures to protect non-target crops.

"Monsanto and BASF have not offered sensitive crop growers effective measures to protect against non-target crop damage," Smith said. "Dow AgroSciences has worked with SOCC to deliver solutions to the problems of growers.  We hope Monsanto and BASF will step to the plate and do the same."

But, BASF spokesperson Daniel Pepitone said BASF has seen Dow's announcement and is already taking steps to understand concerns.

"We have met with numerous stakeholders, and I think we have a vigorous and robust outreach with them, making sure we listen and address their concerns," Peptione said. "Much of what we have seen in [the Dow agreement] are things that we are actively working on."

Pepitone said BASF has also been working to formulate low-volatility products and focus on grower outreach to promote proper application for drift mitigation.

"We believe the chemistry addresses the concerns around volatility, but we need to ensure that growers and applicators use best practices, the right nozzles, the right boom heights to ensure on-target application," Pepitone said.

He added that the main goal was for applicators to have success while using BASF products, and best practice literature and detailed labels help ensure safe application.

"BASF remains steadfastly committed to the introduction of pioneering weed management solutions, as well as the enhancement of existing weed management solutions, that meet the challenges of sustainability," Pepitone said.

Monsanto said in a statement that they are looking forward to dicamba's promise as a tool in weed management, and are confident federal evaluation processes and applicators both will ensure responsible use.

The company says also that they do plan on restricting potentially higher-volatility formulations.

"Throughout the development of dicamba-tolerant crops, we have been in dialog with farmers, industry stakeholders and organizations. Many of them requested that we restrict older, potentially more volatile, formulations of dicamba in an effort to minimize the risk of off-site movement. We have been communicating that we will not authorize the use of higher volatility herbicide products containing the active ingredients, in final form, dimethylamine salt of dicamba and/or dicamba acid in the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System," the statement said.

The Save Our Crops Coalition was formed to prevent injury to non-target plants from exposure to 2,4-D and dicamba.

SOCC says dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides are likely to be used far more extensively upon the introduction of new genetically modified crops tolerant to these herbicides. Though they are not opposed to plant technology advances, particularly genetic modification, they do oppose regulatory actions that would result in herbicide use that causes substantial injury to non-target crops and to the habitats necessary for their pollinators.