Controversial weed killer dicamba could have outsized negative impact on consumer perceptions of pesticide safety

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Soybean leaf damaged by dicamba drift. Image: DTN/Emily Unglesbee)

For better or worse, the widespread use of dicamba is pushing an entire industry to scrutinize how herbicides behave, how they’re regulated, who suffers when they don’t stay put and how they affect trees, plants and even people.

For now, scientists are behind a lot of this scrutiny. The conclusions that are emerging on off-target dicamba movement are generally data-based and sound. But soon — perhaps this year, perhaps the next — the American public may take the wheel. Production agriculture’s chemical use could never be the same again.

Chemical drift is not a new problem in agriculture, but dicamba is especially visible. Minute amounts of dicamba can cause distinctive cupping, strapping and crinkling on a wide range of vegetation, from soybeans to tomatoes and oak trees….Ultimately, dicamba’s visibility may soon move this issue out of agriculture and regulators’ domain, and into the public’s.

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Agrichemical companies, regulators and farmers have perhaps one more year, maybe two, to take ownership and responsibility for off-target dicamba movement. After that, they may have to accept the consequences of an unsympathetic public calling the shots on this chemical’s use.

Read full, original article: How Dicamba’s Visibility Could Change Ag Pesticide Use Forever

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