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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 resulting from dicamba used on genetically engineered crops (over-the-top applications) to growing plants?
  3. What are EPA’s next steps?
  4. Are dicamba residues on food safe?
  5. How will the use of dicamba on genetically engineered cotton and soybean affect pollinators, including bees?
  6. In what states is dicamba registered for use on genetically engineered cotton and soybean?

1. What is dicamba?

Dicamba is a selective herbicide in the benzoic acid family of chemicals. It is 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. At these types of sites, it is primarily used to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, chickweed, clover and ground ivy.

Only dicamba products registered for use on genetically engineered cotton and soybean can be applied “over-the-top” (to growing plants). It is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to use any dicamba product on crops that is not registered for over-the-top use on genetically engineered crops.

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2. What additional steps is EPA taking to reduce damage to non-target crops resulting from dicamba used on genetically engineered crops (over-the-top applications) 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 their application only by certified applicators with special training and those under their supervision;
  • Requiring 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 two 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. Are dicamba residues on food safe?

Yes. EPA performed the analysis required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and determined that residues on food are “safe” – meaning that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to all reasonably identifiable subpopulations, including infants and children, from dietary and all other non-occupational exposure to dicamba.

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5. How will the use of dicamba on genetically engineered cotton and soybean affect pollinators, including bees?

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

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

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

The registration of the new use for dicamba on genetically engineered 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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