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U.S. EPA green lights dicamba until 2020

Agency adds restrictions to help prevent pesticide drifting onto nearby properties

by Britt E. Erickson
November 1, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 44


Chemical structure of dicamba.

U.S. farmers can continue to use the herbicide dicamba on soybeans and cotton genetically modified to tolerate the chemical until at least Dec. 20, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Oct. 31. The agency added new restrictions on how the weed killer can be applied to growing plants to help prevent the pesticide from drifting onto neighboring properties. Dicamba drift has been a big problem since EPA first approved the use of the herbicide on soybeans and cotton in 2016. EPA imposed some restrictions last year to try to prevent drift, but state agencies are continuing to investigate numerous complaints again this year. Environmentalists claim that millions of acres of crops and other plants have been injured by dicamba drift during the past two years. In 2017, farmers growing crops that are not modified to tolerate dicamba and environmental groups challenged EPA’s approval of dicamba. They presented their arguments to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2018. The court has yet to issue a decision in the case.


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