Court challenge to EPA approval of dicamba is dismissed as moot

A federal appeals court on the West Coast dismissed as moot a lawsuit by environmentalists to overturn the EPA’s 2016 approval of the weedkiller dicamba. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the environmental groups could try again with a challenge to EPA’s re-approval of the herbicide last November.

The weedkiller has been blamed for damaging millions of acres of nearby crops, trees and shrubbery. Some weed scientists say dicamba vaporizes from the fields where it is sprayed and moves across the landscape. The lawsuit by Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, Pesticide Action Network and National Family Farm Coalition said regulators failed to properly analyze the risk posed by the chemical. In 2018, FERN published an investigation which showed that the agency, in making its decision to approve dicamba, ignored decades of independent science that said dicamba was prone to drift off target and damage other crops.

A three-judge panel said the 2018 re-approval by EPA eliminated the grounds for the challenge to dicamba. “We recognize the petitioners may face the obstacle of bringing a challenge to the EPA’s registration decision before the expiration of the current registration,” said the appellate judges. “Accordingly, if petitioners bring a challenge in this court to the 2018 registration decision of the EPA, we direct the clerk of the court to set an expedited schedule for briefing and oral argument.”

Monsanto genetically modified cotton and soybean varieties to tolerate doses of dicamba. Farmers have adopted the seeds, and the herbicide, as tools against invasive weeds that developed resistance to widely used herbicides.

To read the five-page ruling, click here.