Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 23, 2017

Contact: Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406,

Arkansas Board OKs Emergency Ban of Drift-prone Pesticide

Dicamba Has Prompted More Than 240 New Complaints in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— In response to more than 240 complaints of crop damage from the highly toxic and drift-prone pesticide dicamba, the Arkansas State Plant Board today voted to enact an emergency ban of the controversial pesticide that has spurred three lawsuits and a dispute that led to the murder of an Arkansas farmer.

Once approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a legislative council, the ban on in-crop use of the pesticide will be immediate.

The problems with the dangerous pesticide began last year after Monsanto released soybean and cotton seeds that had been genetically engineered to resist it, triggering a jump in use of the pesticide and hundreds of complaints from farmers claiming crop damage from pesticide drift.  

“This is a perfect example of the danger of crops genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance — they promote massive increases in use of these dangerous pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “When crops resistant to highly toxic pesticides like dicamba are planted, it unfairly endangers the crops of neighboring farmers.”

Dicamba, which is well-known for its tendency to evaporate and drift to nontarget fields, is highly toxic to virtually all fruits and vegetables, as well as many crops that have not been genetically altered to resist it. The pesticide is also linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and poses increased risks to some of the nation's most endangered species.

Of the roughly 3 million acres of soybeans planted by Arkansas farmers this year, about 2 million acres come from Monsanto's dicamba-tolerant seeds. 

According to Monsanto's estimates, the adoption of dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton crops will cause annual dicamba use on soybeans and cotton to jump from less than 1 million pounds to more than 25 million over the next three to four years.

So far this spring Arkansas regulators have received more than 240 complaints of dicamba misuse, more than seven times as many as in all of last year. Earlier this month dicamba drift ruined more than 100 acres at an Arkansas agricultural research station plot, where conditions are tightly controlled.

Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee regulators are also already reporting complaints about damaging drift from applications of the toxic pesticide. Missouri, which led the nation last year with more than 200 dicamba-related complaints, has already received more than 50 complaints.

“An immediate ban on dicamba is the only honest solution to this dangerous problem and Arkansas is on the right path,” said Donley. “We hope additional states will take action to ensure that dicamba drift doesn't continue to wreak havoc on fields and the environment across the U.S.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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