Podcast: Crop damage caused by dicamba raises questions about how EPA will handle Bayer’s request to re-approve herbicide in late 2020

| | February 10, 2020
Soybean plants damaged by dicamba herbicide drift. Image: Mark Loux/ Ohio State University Extension)
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Every summer for the past three years, the phones have been ringing like crazy in the Office of the Indiana State Chemist. Farmers and homeowners were calling, complaining that their soybean fields or tomato plants looked sick, with curled-up leaves.

When tests were done, they showed the same thing over and over again: [Bayer’s herbicide] dicamba …. The problem with dicamba is …. it can evaporate and drift across the landscape, damaging other plants.

[In November 2019], a group of state officials, including [Indiana pesticide regulator Leo] Reed, had a conference call about dicamba with officials at the EPA. According to Reed, the state representatives posed a question: “Are crinkled soybean leaves an ‘unreasonable adverse effect’? Because if they are, then this product is federally misbranded.” Under the law, Reed says, “If a product is misbranded, then it can no longer be sold or used.”

Related article:  States want tighter EPA restrictions on dicamba weedkillers after another year of 'skyrocketing' crop damage

The EPA’s authorization to use dicamba in this way, however, will expire at the end of 2020. At that point, the agency will have to decide, once again, whether to let farmers keep spraying this chemical on their soybean and cotton crops.

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