The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it would allow farmers to spray crops with weed killers based on a chemical weed sold by Bayer and other companies after a U.S. Court of Appeals blocked sales in June.
The decision is an incentive for Bayer, which has been embroiled in lawsuits over various chemicals in the United States since acquiring seed company Monsanto in 2018. Critics say it is another example of the Trump administration favoring business interests over regulations just a week before the presidential election.
The EPA has reaffirmed Bayer’s XtendiMax, a popular dicamba-based herbicide sprayed on soybeans and genetically engineered cotton to counteract it. It is known to recede and damage other crops that are not resistant to it.
EPA will implement new restrictions on dikamba products that “will address the floating problems we have witnessed in the past,” Administrator Andrew Wheeler told them on call.
The agency also approved Diamba BASFn.DE’s Engenia herbicide BASFn SE and approved Syngenta’s Tavium approval.
Environmental groups have called for a ban on dikamba products, claiming they harm plants and wildlife nearby.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals agreed this summer and ruled that the EPA should significantly underestimate the risks associated with the use of dikamba. His ruling also blocked the sale of Fexapan CTVA.N to Engenia and Corteva Agriscience.
The EPA ruling overturns the court ruling, experts say.
“Instead of estimating the significant costs of dictation as the 9th round passed the law, the EPA hastened to re-approve it as a political prop immediately before the election,” said George George Kimbrel, legal director at the Center for Food Safety.
Bayer and farm groups, including the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau, praised the EPA decision.
About 60% of soybean crops in the United States this year are estimated to be planted with Bayer’s soybean, according to Baer. They should be sprayed with the herbicide to remove weeds that have developed tolerance to another chemical, glyphosate.
The BASF said the need for its Engenia was greater than ever due to the increased resistance of weeds to glyphosate. Syngenta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Korteva said she was focused on selling rival Enlist E3 soybean seeds, which are resistant to chemicals other than dikamba.
The EPA said it would impose a June 30 deadline for farmers to spray soybean dikamba and a July 30 deadline for cotton use.
Farmers will not be able to spray dikamba at a distance of 73 meters to 94 meters from the areas where certain species are found. The EPA will also require users to mix dikamba with another product, known as a “pH buffer agent”, to prevent it from receding.