Friday, June 05, 2020

Court overturns EPA approval of popular herbicide made by Monsanto

Carey Gillam
Published on Thu 4 Jun 2020 12.40 EDT

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law in approving agricultural weedkilling products sold by Bayer and two other chemical giants, ignoring clear evidence that the new herbicides would cause widespread damage to crops, a federal court ruled on Wednesday.

The decision by the US court of appeals for the ninth circuit invalidates the registrations for dicamba-based herbicides made by Monsanto, which is owned by Bayer AG, BASF and Corteva Agrisciences that are designed to be sprayed on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton. The court order effectively makes it illegal for farmers to continue to use the dicamba herbicides this summer as they tend to millions of acres of crops.

In a stinging rebuke, the court said it had no choice but to cancel the EPA’s approval of the herbicides because the agency had strayed so far from its duty to properly assess the dangers presented by the “new use” of dicamba.

“The EPA made multiple errors in granting the conditional registrations,” the court said.


The issue at the heart of the court case is a crop and chemical system designed by Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018. The company said that soybean and cotton farmers could plant “dicamba-tolerant” versions of the crops and then spray new types of dicamba herbicides directly over the top of their fields to easily kill weeds. Previously, farmers used dicamba sparingly and were largely restricted from using dicamba during the growing season because the chemical can easily drift long distances, killing or injuring a wide array of crops and other plants it settles on.

Monsanto, BASF and Corteva Agriscience told the EPA that their herbicides would have low volatility and if farmers followed instructions on the product labels, they could prevent drift. But since the introduction of the new dicamba crops and herbicides, farmer complaints have been filed with state agricultural officials, reporting dicamba damage across several million acres in at least a dozen states.

The Guardian reported in March that Monsanto predicted its dicamba crop system would lead to thousands of damage claims from US farmers but pushed ahead anyway, and risks were downplayed to the EPA.


No comments:

Post a Comment