EPA approves use of herbicides linked to cancer and crop cross contamination

Dicamba, the main ingredient in the three herbicides, is "highly volatile and can easily drift onto unprotected neighboring fields from fields of crops genetically engineered to withstand it."

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The Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of three herbicides for an additional four years after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency vacate the use of the weedkillers. The three herbicides, Syngenta’s Tavium, Bayer’s XtendiMax and BASF’s Engenia, which are based on the chemical, dicamba, have been linked to cancer.

In June, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “cited the EPA’s failure to acknowledge the risks the chemical poses to conventional crops and the environment,” a press release stated. Dicamba, the main ingredient in the three herbicides, is “highly volatile and can easily drift onto unprotected neighboring fields from fields of crops genetically engineered to withstand it.”

A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute linked dicamba to an increased risk of colon cancer among the applicators of the herbicide. It’s also linked to nervous system damage. Children between 1 and 2 years old are the largest population heavily exposed to dicamba as the chemical’s residue can be found on most foods they consume, according to the EPA’s own risk assessment of the herbicides.

While dicamba can pose risks to the environment, farmworkers and children, the EPA’s decision sides with the farmers and pesticide industry as the agency approved the extended use of the three herbicides on GMO soybean and cotton fields.

“Protecting the pesticide industry has been a top priority of the EPA during the Trump administration,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Millions of acres of crops will continue to be damaged, and the health of farmworkers, children and all those who live near farms where dicamba is used will be at risk—all in the name of appeasing chemical agriculture.”

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