EPA Approval of XtendiMax (Dicamba) Debated in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Bloomberg writers Joel Rosenblatt and Lydia Mulvany reported yesterday that, “When it comes to killing weeds, Bayer AG’s crop chemical XtendiMax has become a powerful new tool for American farmers. But environmental groups say U.S. regulators ignored warnings about the herbicide’s main ingredient, dicamba, when they permitted its use in 2016.

A federal appeals court in Seattle was asked Wednesday to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency approval after the unintended destruction of millions of acres of crops not treated with XtendiMax, from wine grapes and peach orchards to vegetables and soybeans. Bayer inherited XtendiMax when it acquired Monsanto Co. for $66 billion in June, and dicamba-based products are key to its growth strategy for herbicides and genetically modified seeds.

“Groups including The Center for Food Safety allege the EPA violated federal law by ignoring evidence from officials in various states that the chemical easily drifted onto untreated crops. In 2017, among soybean farms alone, 3.6 million acres of non-resistant crops were damaged, according to Kevin Bradley, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Missouri. After about 2,700 complaints last year, the EPA required a more detailed product label, mandatory application training, and more rigorous record keeping.”

The Bloomberg writers noted that, “At the hearing on Wednesday, the environmental groups asked the appeals court to invalidate the EPA’s 2016 approval of XtendiMax to make sales illegal.”

“Monsanto filed briefs supporting the EPA’s decision-making, arguing farmers need new tools to combat weeds that have grown resistant to Roundup and by 2012 covered more than 60 million acres of U.S. farmland,” the article said, adding that: “The court fight comes as the EPA’s approval of dicamba formulations expires Nov. 9, and Bayer expects a renewal decision before then.”

(The case is National Family Farm Coalition v. United States Environmental Protection Agency and Monsanto co., 17-70196, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Seattle)).

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