October 28, 2020


US Environmental Protection Agency permits Bayer weed killer use for five years


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it has approved the use of weed killers sold by Bayer and other companies based on the dicamba chemical, after sales of dicamba products were blocked by a US appeals court in June, Reuters reported.


The EPA re-approved Bayer's XtendiMax product for five years, a dicamba-based herbicide sprayed on soybeans and cotton that have been genetically engineered to resist the product. As it sprayed, it has been known to drift away and damage other crops not resistant to the herbicide.


Critics of the approval said it is the Trump administration favouring business interests over regulations.


Since purchasing seed company Monsanto in 2018, Bayer has been hit by lawsuits in the US over various chemicals.


Andrew Wheeler, EPA Administrator, said the agency will introduce new restrictions on dicamba products that will affect drift issues.


Another dicamba based herbicide that has been re-approved is BASF's Engenia, while approval for Syngenta's Tavium has been extended.


EPA's deicison was praised by Bayer, as well as US farm groups like the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau.


Bayer said about 60% of soybean crop in the US were seeded by Bayer's Xtend soybeans, which need to be sprayed with XtendiMax to ward off weeds that have developed a resistance to glyphosate, another chemical.


BASF said its Engenia product is needed because of glyphosate resistance. Syngenta did not respond to Reuter's request for comment. Corteva said it is focused on selling Enlist E3 soybeans seeds, which do not resist dicamba.


According to the EPA, soybean farmers have a June 30 deadline to spray dicamba while cotton farmers have a July 30 deadline.


Farmers cannot spray dicamba within 73m to 94m of areas where specific species are located. Farmers must also mix dicamba with a pH-buffering agent to prevent it from drifting away.


-      Reuters

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