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ws/nation/2017/08/29/Miracle- weed-killer-dicamba-was- supposed-to-save-farms-instead -it-s-devastating-them/stories /201708290220
Miracle weed killer dicamba was supposed to save farms; instead, itâ€™s devastating themEDITED by Laurel Hopwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Sierra Club
by Caitlin Dewey, 8/30/17
The damage across the Midwest - sickly soybeans, trees and other crops - has become emblematic of a deepening crisis in American agriculture.
Farmers are locked in an arms race between ever-stronger weeds and ever-stronger weed killers.
The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide - used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean - promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers. The problem is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics contend that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.
As dicamba use has increased, so too have reports that it "volatilizes,â" or re-vaporizes and travels to other fields. That harms nearby trees, as well as nonresistant soybeans, fruits and vegetables, and plants used as habitats by bees and other pollinators.
According to one 2004 assessment, dicamba is 75 to 400 times more dangerous to off-target plants than the common weed killer glyphosate, even at very low doses. It is particularly toxic to soybeans - the very crop it was designed to protect - that haven't been modified for resistance.
Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri researcher, estimates that more than 3.1 million acres of soybeans have been damaged by dicamba in at least 16 states, including major producers such as Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. That figure is probably low, according to researchers, and it represents almost 4 percent of all U.S. soybean acres.
"It's really hard to get a handle on how widespread the damage is," said Bob Hartzler, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State. "But I've come to the conclusion that [dicamba] is not manageable."
Critics say that the approval process proceeded without adequate data and under enormous pressure from state agriculture departments, industry groups and farmers' associations. Those groups argued that farmers desperately needed the new herbicide to control glyphosate-resistant weeds. Such weeds have grown stronger and more numerous over the past 20 years - a result of glyphosate overuse.
State weed scientists expressed unanimous concern that dicamba is more volatile than manufacturers have indicated.
Regulators did not have access to much of this data. Although Monsanto and BASF submitted hundreds of studies to the EPA, only a handful of reports considered volatility in a real-world field setting, as opposed to a greenhouse or a lab, according to regulatory filings. Under EPA rules, manufacturers are responsible for funding and conducting the safety tests the agency uses to evaluate products.
And although pesticide-makers often supply new products to university researchers to conduct field tests in varied environments, Monsanto acknowledged it did not allow that testing on its commercialized dicamba because it did not want to delay registration, and scientists said BASF limited it.
Frustrated scientists say that allowed chemical companies to cherry-pick the data available to regulators.
Environmental Working Group's Scott Faber says farmers have become "trapped on a chemical treadmill" driven by the biotech industry. Many farmers say they think they could not continue farming without new herbicide technology.
"We're on a road to nowhere," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The next story is resistance to a third chemical, and then a fourth chemical - you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see where that will end. The real issue here is that people are using ever-more complicated combinations of poisons on crops, with ever-more complex consequences."
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Overall, metabolome and proteome disturbances showed a substantial overlap with biomarkers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and its progression to steatohepatosis and thus confirm liver functional dysfunction resulting from chronic ultra-low dose glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) exposure.
“New testing conducted by an FDA-registered food safety lab found alarming levels of the chemical glyphosate (known as Monsanto’s Roundup weed-killer) in several very common foods. This independent research reveals that many popular foods have over 1000 times the glyphosate levels that have been established to be harmful.” [Source]
“Doses tested were typically over the glyphosate acceptable daily intake (ADI), which is currently set at 0.3 mg/kg bw/day within the European Union (1.75 mg/kg bw/day in the USA) based on hepatorenal toxicity measurements after chronic exposure in rats.”
The results showed that Roundup caused an increased incidence in signs of anatomical pathologies, as well as changes in urine and blood biochemical parameters suggestive of liver and kidney functional insufficiency.
“Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides.”