Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 7, 2017

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

Arkansas Bans Monsanto's Drift-prone Pesticide

Dicamba Has Prompted Nearly 600 New Complaints in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— In response to more than 590 complaints of crop damage from the highly toxic and drift-prone pesticide dicamba, Arkansas officials announced today the state will enact a 120-day emergency ban of the controversial pesticide, effective July 11. 

The emergency measure moved forward today after a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council took no action on a recommendation by the Arkansas State Plant Board to ban the pesticide, a recommendation that was approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Problems with the dangerous pesticide began last year, after Monsanto released soybean and cotton seeds that had been genetically engineered to resist dicamba, 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 trigger massive increases in use of these dangerous pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only is this chemical polluting hundreds of thousands of acres of our environment, it's actually reducing crop yields by drifting and damaging neighboring fields. It's a lose-lose situation.”

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 1.5 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 under 1 million pounds to more than 25 million over the next three years.

The 596 complaints of dicamba misuse in 23 counties Arkansas regulators have received so far this year are more than 16 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 120 dicamba-related complaints, has already received more than 100 complaints.

Use of the pesticide has already spurred three lawsuits and a dispute over crop damage that led to the murder of an Arkansas farmer.

“Today Arkansas gave relief to many farmers and homeowners who are sick of having Monsanto's chemicals drifting on to their land,” 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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