Hours after his inauguration, President Biden issued an executive order to review 48 actions by the Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency, including several controversial decisions on agricultural chemicals. Environmental and food safety groups saw the action as a welcome sign that the Biden EPA will begin to temper what they see as the agency's industry-friendly stance and prioritize the environment, public health, and science. (No paywall)
The EPA failed to ensure that dicamba can be used safely when it issued a five-year approval of the weedkiller, said a lawsuit that asks a federal appeals court in San Francisco to vacate the EPA registration of the herbicide. Foes say dicamba is overly prone to evaporate from where it is …
The Trump administration approved the use of the weedkiller dicamba on genetically engineered cotton and soybeans for the next five years, saying new safeguards would tame a notoriously volatile herbicide blamed for damaging millions of acres of neighboring lands. Farm groups cheered the continued access to a "critically important weed control tool" and the Center for Food Safety, a skeptic of industrial agriculture, said it "will most certainly challenge these unlawful approvals."
The herbicide dicamba is too risky to use on row crops such as soybeans and cotton until independent research shows it won't evaporate and harm nearby crops and plants, said a report from three conservation and environmental groups on Wednesday. Dicamba is blamed for "off-target" damage on millions of acres of property, and the EPA is considering possible rules for its use on crops in the future.
The fast-growing weed Palmer amaranth has developed a tolerance for dicamba herbicide in least five counties in western Tennessee and likely several others, said University of Tennessee weed specialist Larry Steckel on Monday. The report was a setback for dicamba, which was introduced a few years ago as a new tool for control of invasive weeds that showed resistance to glyphosate and other weedkillers.
Under the terms of an agreement announced Wednesday, seed and agribusiness giant Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to resolve lawsuits that accuse its Roundup herbicide of causing cancer, and an additional $400 million to settle litigation claiming crop damage caused by its dicamba weedkiller from 2015 to 2020.
The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an emergency motion for an immediate cutoff of farmer use of the weedkiller dicamba, a victory for the EPA plan to allow spraying of the herbicide on GE soybeans and cotton through July 31. The court voided EPA approval of versions of dicamba sold by Bayer, BASF and Corteva on June 3; a few days later, the EPA said farmers could use stocks already on the farm through the end of July.
The victors in a lawsuit against the weedkiller dicamba asked the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn an EPA decision that would let farmers use the herbicide until July 31. "Emergency relief is required to prevent off-field drift harms that will occur on millions of acres should spraying continue," said the coalition of farm and environmental groups in an emergency petition.
Farmers and pesticide applicators can use the weedkiller dicamba until July 31, the EPA announced on Monday as it canceled its approval of the herbicide, as required by an appellate court decision announced last week. The so-called existing stocks order will allow use of the chemical on GE cotton and soybeans this crop year — the goal of farmers facing the loss of a potent weed control tool with the growing season already underway.
The controversial weedkiller dicamba, which has wreaked havoc in soybean country over the last two years, is dividing communities and pitting neighbor against neighbor as the 2019 growing season gets underway. FERN's latest story, a radio piece produced with Reveal and the podcast Us & Them, takes listeners inside these divided communities in Arkansas.(No paywall)