States want tighter EPA restrictions on dicamba weedkillers after another year of ‘skyrocketing’ crop damage

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Arkansas farmer David Wildy inspects a field of soybeans that were damaged by dicamba in 2017. Credit: Dan Charles / NPR

On April 28, the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) sent EPA a letter asking that the agency consider banning postemergence use of four dicamba herbicides — XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), FeXapan (Corteva) and Tavium (Syngenta) — when it makes its decision on their current registrations, set to expire in December 2020.

“…. [P]rohibiting OTT [over-the-top] applications could greatly reduce dicamba complaint investigations,” the letter stated.

Leo Reed, an Indiana pesticide regulator who serves as president of AAPCO, said the letter echoes one sent back in 2018 when EPA was mulling its first registration renewal of dicamba herbicides.

“I felt it incumbent upon the organization that EPA be aware of what our position is, and it’s not really changed much since 2018,” Reed told DTN. “Although our circumstances have — we’ve been hit with hundreds and hundreds more [dicamba] investigations and millions of dollars’ worth of expenses conducting those investigations.”

Related article:  Facing escalating legal costs defending Monsanto's Roundup, Bayer invests $5.6 billion in alternative herbicide research

Injury complaints skyrocketed in the soybean-heavy states of Indiana and Illinois in 2019. Illinois is investigating an unprecedented 724 cases of alleged off-target injury, and Indiana also set a record with 178 complaints. Other states, such as Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska investigated similar levels of damage in both 2018 and 2019, despite dicamba label changes made by EPA in 2018.

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