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PNS Daily Newscast - September 20, 2019 


A whistleblower complaint against President Trump sets off tug-of-war between Congress and the White House; and students around the world strike today to demand action on climate change.

2020Talks - September 20, 2019. (3 min.)  


Climate change is a big issue this election season, and global climate strikes kick off, while UAW labor strikes continue.

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Groups Object to Arkansas Panel's Approval of Herbicide Dicamba

Scientists say the herbicide dicamba often drifts from the fields where it is applied, and ends up killing native plants and birds in nearby areas. (Pholiprids/WikimediaCommons)
Scientists say the herbicide dicamba often drifts from the fields where it is applied, and ends up killing native plants and birds in nearby areas. (Pholiprids/WikimediaCommons)
December 12, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A coalition of sustainable-farming and conservation groups is protesting a move by Arkansas officials to roll back restrictions on the herbicide dicamba.

The groups say the potent weed killer, when spread over the crops it is designed to protect, often drifts to other areas, affecting native plants and birds. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of dicamba in 2016 over scientists' objections. The Arkansas Plant Board initially approved strict rules for its use, but recently relaxed them under industry pressure.

Dan Scheiman, bird-conservation director for Audubon Arkansas, said spraying dicamba can cause a great deal of damage, especially during late spring and early fall.

"Our Audubons worry that it will affect not just crops that aren't genetically modified to resist dicamba but also native plants and the birds, other wildlife that depend on those native plants," he said.

Scheiman said the Plant Board's ruling only restricts dicamba use between May 21 and Oct. 31, so it still can be spread during warm parts of the year when it is the most dangerous. The opposition groups cite close ties between Arkansas regulators and agricultural companies as a major reason the regulations have been rolled back.

Scientists have said dicamba drift endangers many native plants, which then can affect bees, birds, butterflies and other species that inhabit the farm landscape. Scheiman contended that testimony from several experts essentially was ignored by state regulators.

"Dr. Jason Norsworthy from the University of Arkansas made a very compelling presentation to the Plant Board last week about the dangers of the volatility of dicamba," Scheiman said, "and despite all that, they still are looking for ways to expand the use of dicamba."

Scheiman said people still have a chance to weigh in. The new regulations must be approved by the governor's office and go through a 30-day comment period before the Plant Board's final vote.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR