Wednesday, September 20, 2017

EPA may allow farmers to use the controversial herbicide dicamba, with restrictions

The Environmental Protection Agency may allow farmers to use the controversial herbicide dicamba in 2018, but with more rules aimed at making it safer to use, Tom Polansek reports for Reuters. After dicamba is sprayed on crops, it sometimes dries into a fine powder that is picked up and spread by the wind. In 2017 alone, that has damaged about 3 million acres of soybeans and other crops that aren't dicamba-tolerant.

Reuben Baris, acting chief of EPA's herbicide branch, said he wasn't sure what steps the agency would take to mitigate damage associated with dicamba use. Officials had considered banning it, as several states have already done temporarily. Now the focus has shifted to discussions with state regulators on how to prevent crop damage in the future while allowing dicamba to be used in some way. EPA has also been in talks with Monsanto and BASF, which sell dicamba, to encourage changes in how they are used.

State officials had told Reuters that EPA "was considering establishing a set date after which the spraying of dicamba weed killers on growing crops would not be allowed," Polansek reports. Arkansas is considering a statewide spray deadline of April 15, 2018. "Monsanto has said the date would amount to a ban in Arkansas because the chemical was designed to be sprayed over the genetically engineered crops during the summer growing season," Polansek reports.

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