The little-known U.S. Judicial Panel on Mulitdistrict Litigation is scheduled to hear arguments on Jan. 25 in Miami on one of the hottest issues in agriculture — claims of crop damage due to the weedkiller dicamba, said the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The panel will decide whether to centralize more than a dozen lawsuits filed in four states against the makers of dicamba, which would mean one court would oversee the cases.
In another sign of trouble for so-called advanced biofuels, the newly created giant corporation DowDuPont stopped operations at its $225 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, and hopes to find a buyer for the plant with a 30-million-gallon-a-year capacity, said the Des Moines Register. Last December, Abengoa Bioenergy sold its cellulosic plant in Hugoton, Kan., for pennies on the dollar as part of a bankruptcy liquidation of assets.
Following an explosion of complaints about crop damage by the weedkiller dicamba, the EPA strengthened its rules for spraying the herbicide onto genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The new guidelines require special training of applicators before they can spray dicamba, limit the time of day when it can be used and bar spraying when winds exceed 10 miles an hour, a reduction from the 15 mph limit this year.
In the wake of this summer’s widespread damage to soybeans and other crops caused by the unintended drift from applications of the weedkiller dicamba, Reuters reports that EPA regulators told state officials that they are considering a ban on use of the herbicide after a cutoff date early next year. The idea would be to limit spraying to early spring, before soybeans emerge from the ground.
Missouri has tightened its rules for dicamba, permitting use of the herbicide only during the day and if winds are mild, as agriculture officials in the mid-South try to contain crop damage from the weedkiller sprayed on cotton and soybeans. Widespread reports of damage have left some growers feeling forced into buying dicamba-tolerant GE seed.
Dow Chemical and E.I. DuPont can carry out their planned $130 billion merger if they agree to sell off some of their pesticide and petrochemical business, said the Justice Department. Justice’s antitrust division said the divestitures would preserve competition in the ag chemical sector.
In a multibillion-dollar asset swap, Dow is selling part of its crop protection operation to FMC and and picking up nearly all of FMC's health and nutrition business. As part of the deal, FMC will acquire a Dow agricultural research center in Newark and turn it into the global research and development center for FMC, which is based in Philadelphia, says the Wilmington News Journal.
The administrative arm of the European Union approved the merger of Dow and DuPont based on their promises to divest some assets, says Deutsche Welle. It was the first decision on a wave of proposed consolidations that would reshape the seed and ag-chemical sector into a "big three," down from the six firms that now compete.
To satisfy EU regulators, U.S.-based Dow and DuPont offered to sell part of DuPont's crop protection business along with its associated research and development and Dow's business in copolymers and ionomers, said the News Journal. The companies hope to complete their $130 billion merge in the first half of this year.