Friday, November 02, 2018

EPA OKs dicamba for two more years, but with restrictions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week that farmers can use controversial herbicide dicamba for at least the next two years, but with more restrictions on its use. Dicamba is an important tool for controlling weeds, the agency said, but the new rules "would prohibit applications on soybeans 45 days after planting and on cotton 60 days after planting to address 'potential concerns to surrounding crops and plants,'" Tom Polansek reports for Reuters. "The agency also limited the times during which dicamba can be sprayed."

The approval -- and restrictions -- come after complaints that dicamba drifts from where it is sprayed and damages crops, plants and trees nearby. Dicamba damaged an estimated 4 percent of soybean plantings in the summer of 2017. BASF SE, DownDuPont Inc. and Bayer AG's Monsanto sell herbicides containing dicamba; Monsanto sells soy and cotton seeds genetically engineered to resist it, Polansek reports.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said he extended the registration for dicamba for the next two years to provide "certainty to all stakeholders for the upcoming growing season," including the farmers who have been awaiting a ruling before buying next year's seeds, Polansek reports.

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