Dicamba Weed Killer
The sale of agricultural weed killer dicamba has been blocked by a U.S. appeals court. Bayer AG, a chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer based out of Germany that purchased Monsanto in 2018, sells many dicamba-based herbicides. Bayer is already spending a lot of money defending its legal battles related to the weed killer Roundup, which is glyphosate-based and has been alleged to caused cancer.
The Court Ruling
A panel of three judges assigned to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) significantly underreported the risks associated with the use of dicamba. Dicamba is a chemical found in certain herbicides. The dicamba-based herbicides are used on cotton and soybean crops that have been genetically modified so that the product kills weeds but does not kill the plants themselves. However, the dicamba herbicides would regularly drift from their original target and have destroyed or damaged other neighboring non-resistant crops.
The court ruling was issued on June 3, 2020. The court agreed with environmental groups that have been seeking reversal of the EPA’s approval of the dicamba-based XtendiMax herbicide, made by Monsanto, because it causes harm to wildlife and plants that are in close proximity to its use. The court blocked sales of all other dicamba-based herbicides as well, including FeXapan, made by Corteva Agriscience and BASF’s Engenia.
Not surprisingly, the companies with products affected by the ruling, BASF, and Bayer, did not agree with the court’s judgment. Representatives from Corteva Agriscience issued a statement that the company was reviewing the decision, but believed that dicamba-based herbicides could be applied safely.
Dicamba Registration Up for Renewal Soon
The EPA registered the use of dicamba in 2018, and that registration is set to expire in December of this year. Bayer is looking for new EPA registration for its dicamba herbicide for 2021. The EPA is reviewing the ruling from the court. Meanwhile, Bayer is waiting on the EPA’s decision and any challenges to the court’s ruling. The company says it will work to minimize the impact on the company’s customers for this farming season.
Other Reaction to the Ruling
The U.S. Agriculture Secretary had criticisms of the ruling, specifically that it was not clear if farmers that had already bought the dicamba herbicides with their hard-earned money could legally use them during this current soy crop season. The Agriculture Secretary urged the EPA to be flexible in order to allow farmers to use any dicamba products that they had already purchased.
Prior Actions Related to Dicamba
Restrictions were added to the use of dicamba weed killer by the EPA in 2018. The manufacturers adapted to those changes. It is expected the same will happen with the court ruling. In fact, the makers of dicamba-based herbicides had already made changes to the labels, which some speculate may make the court ruling moot.
Farmers whose crops were damaged from “dicamba drift” are encouraged by the court’s decision. Currently, more than half of U.S. soybeans planted are of the “Xtend” variety, which farmers turned to in order to protect their crops from dicamba spray drifting from neighboring farms.
Below is a video discussing the recent court decision.
I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno farm accident lawyer. If you or anyone you know has sustained injuries in a farm-related accident, do not hesitate to reach out to me at (559) 377-7676. I can offer free and friendly advice with no obligation. If you decide you would like legal representation, all of our cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means there are no upfront fees.
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