Viewpoint: Court-ordered dicamba weedkiller ban could fuel new legal strategy to restrict Bayer’s Roundup

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On June 3, 2020, a panel of three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, vacated the registrations of three dicamba products intended for over-the-top application to soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to tolerate them. Years of work and hundreds of millions of dollars spent by seed and chemical companies to create a safe and effective control for weeds resistant to glyphosate was, by the stroke of a pen, destroyed.

Designed to be non-volatile, neighboring farmers nonetheless suffered extensive damage from dicamba volatility in 2017, perhaps from applicator mistakes and/or from off-label applications of ordinary dicamba, which has been on the market for decades and lacks the volatility restraints of the newer products ….

Related article:  Do Roundup Ready GMO crops harm Monarch butterflies? Ecologists weigh in as new data comes to light

[Editor’s note: Jack DeWitt is a farmer and agronomist.]

I cannot vouch for company claims of volatility control in their products, and I sympathize with farmers who have suffered damage. The court system is the place to settle damage disputes …. But what the 9th Circuit Court judges did set a dangerous precedent.

Since environmentalists were successful in getting a court to bypass — even briefly — the framework set up by Congress for the orderly cancellation of a pesticide, expect them to try this tactic again; probably with Roundup (glyphosate).

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