Federal Court Overturns EPA Approval of Monsanto Weed Killer

A panel made up of three judges in a federal appeals court has overturned the approval given by the US Environmental Protection Agency for dicamba. Dicamba is a weed killer produced by Monsanto, the same manufacturer that developed Roundup.

Conditional Approval of Dicamba

The EPA granted conditional approval of dicamba in 2018. While the weed killer has been around for more than half a century, it has become more popular after Monsanto created a new formula. This formula allowed it to be used on cotton and soybeans, replacing Roundup for those two crops.
Some weeds have developed a resistance to glyphosate, which is the main ingredient for Roundup. Dicamba gave farmers a better option for cotton and soybeans. However, some experts say that dicamba can travel up to a mile with the wind or when it turns into vapor, which means it could cause damage to other crops as well as gardens and plants.
The court claimed that the EPA failed to think about the complicated restrictions that would probably not be followed for using dicamba. The judges stated that the organization failed to calculate risks correctly and failed to acknowledge others. Unless Monsanto wins an appeal, the herbicide cannot be used on acreage.
A spokesperson for Bayer, the company that owns Monsanto, said that the fact that the EPA approves the use of the herbicide shows that it doesn’t cause any risks which are unreasonable when the product is used according to the instructions on the label.
The court ruling is for the current approval which was obtained in 2018. It expires in December 2020. Monsanto is working on the registration to have XtendiMax, an herbicide containing dicamba, approved for use in 2021 and further into the future. According to The Center for Food Safety, this herbicide was set to be used on farms using 25 million pounds.

Potential for Future Lawsuits

Monsanto is the biggest name linked to dicamba, but it’s not the only company to produce products using this ingredient. Corteva Agriscience is another American manufacturer based out of Wilmington, DE that uses herbicides with dicamba listed as an ingredient. BASF out of Germany also uses products with it.
At the same time, Bayer is trying to mitigate damages for the three cases that have gone to court over Roundup. All three cases were losses for the manufacturer, but it has appealed the decisions. The company has also been settling other deals with agreements from just a few thousand dollars to in the millions. It’s estimated that there are around 125,000 lawsuits in process throughout the United States.
One of the key defenses for Bayer is that federal regulation of Roundup overrides state laws, which could change many pending cases. The company argues that it can’t change the herbicide or warnings unless approved by the EPA. The agency currently states that it doesn’t cause cancer.
Some experts think that Bayer will pay between $10 and $12 billion to resolve litigation surrounding Roundup. A loss in the appeals court could result in even more lawsuits against Roundup.