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Registration of Dicamba for Use on Genetically Engineered Crops

In 2016, EPA registered new dicamba formulations, approved for “over-the-top” use (i.e., use on growing plants), to control weeds in cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered (GE) to resist dicamba.

In 2017, EPA reached an agreement with manufacturers on measures to further minimize the potential for drift to damage neighboring crops from the use of dicamba formulations used to control weeds in genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The registrants voluntarily agreed to registration and labeling changes including making these products restricted-use, record keeping requirements, and certain additional spray drift mitigation measures. New requirements for the use of dicamba "over the top" (application to growing plants) will allow farmers to make informed choices for seed purchases for the 2018 growing season.

In a series of discussions, EPA sought extensive input from States and USDA cooperative extension agents from across the country, as well as the pesticide manufacturers, on the underlying causes of damage. EPA reviewed all available information carefully and developed tangible regulatory changes for the 2018 growing season. This is an example of cooperative federalism leading to workable national level solutions.

Learn more about dicamba for use on genetically-engineered crops:

  1. What is dicamba?
  2. What additional steps is EPA taking to reduce damage to non-target crops from dicamba used on GE crops?
  3. What are EPA’s next steps?
  4. Is dicamba safe?
  5. How will the use of dicamba on GE cotton and soybeans affect pollinators/bees?
  6. In what states will dicamba be registered for use on GE crops?

1. What is dicamba?

Dicamba is a selective herbicide in the benzoic acid family of chemicals. It is already registered for use in agriculture on corn, wheat and other crops. Dicamba is also registered for non-agricultural uses in residential areas, and other sites such as golf courses, mainly to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, chickweed, clover and ground ivy.

Only dicamba products registered for use on GE cotton and soybean can be applied “over the top” (to growing plants). It is a violation of FIFRA to use any other dicamba product that is not registered for use on GE crops “over the top” on crops.

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2. What additional steps is EPA taking to reduce damage to non-target crops from dicamba used on GE crops (applications “over the top,” to growing plants?

EPA worked with States, USDA cooperative extension agents and the pesticide manufacturers to develop tangible solutions to address the underlying causes leading to dicamba-related crop damage incidents in 2017. The manufacturers voluntarily agreed to label changes that impose additional requirements for "over the top" use of these products next year including:

  • Classifying products as "restricted use," permitting only certified applicators with special training and those under their supervision to apply them; dicamba-specific training for all certified applicators to reinforce proper use;
  • Requiring farmers to maintain specific records regarding the use of these products to improve compliance with label restrictions;
  • Limiting applications to when maximum wind speeds are below 10 mph (from 15 mph) to reduce potential spray drift;
  • Reducing the times during the day when applications can occur;
  • Including tank clean-out language to prevent cross contamination; and
  • Enhancing susceptible crop language and record keeping with sensitive crop registries to increase awareness of risk to especially sensitive crops nearby.

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3. What are EPA’s next steps?

Manufacturers have agreed to a process to get the revised labels into the hands of farmers in time for the 2018 use season. Each company agreed to a process to relabel products currently in the marketplace, if necessary. This may involve certain retailers relabeling the products and providing a new label or manufacturers reclaiming products from certain retailers for relabeling.

EPA will monitor the success of these changes to help inform our decision whether to allow the continued "over the top" use of dicamba beyond the 2018 growing season. When EPA registered these products, it set the registrations to automatically expire in 2 years to allow EPA to change the registration, if necessary. Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont are the only companies that market these dicamba products for over-the-top applications in season.

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4. Is dicamba safe?

When used according to label directions, dicamba is safe for everyone, including infants, the developing fetus, the elderly and more highly exposed groups such as agricultural workers. It also meets the safety standard for the environment, including endangered species. We assessed risks from dicamba to endangered species and found that there would be no effect on listed species from this active ingredient in the approved use area when the product is used according to label directions. The decision to register dicamba for use on GE cotton and soybean meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard.

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5. How will the use of dicamba on GE cotton and soybean affect pollinators/bees?

Conservative, screening-level risk assessments have determined that this use of dicamba on GE cotton and soybean, when used according to label directions, does not exceed EPA's level of concern for pollinators/bees. Therefore, we expect there will be no adverse impacts to bees and other pollinators.

Learn more EPA efforts to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticides.

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6. In what states is dicamba registered for use on GE cotton and soybean? 

The registration of the new use for dicamba on GE cotton and soybean will allow use in:

  • Alabama; 
  • Arkansas; 
  • Arizona; 
  • Colorado; 
  • Delaware; 
  • Florida; 
  • Georgia; 
  • Illinois; 
  • Indiana; 
  • Iowa;
  • Kansas; 
  • Kentucky; 
  • Louisiana; 
  • Maryland; 
  • Michigan;
  • Minnesota; 
  • Mississippi; 
  • Missouri; 
  • Nebraska; 
  • New Mexico; 
  • New Jersey,
  • New York; 
  • North Carolina; 
  • North Dakota; 
  • Ohio; 
  • Oklahoma; 
  • Pennsylvania; 
  • South Carolina; 
  • South Dakota; 
  • Tennessee; 
  • Texas; 
  • Virginia; 
  • West Virginia; and
  • Wisconsin.

Additional states may be added to the labeling once an endangered species assessment is completed and demonstrates that a no effects determination is appropriate for any such state.

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