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Monsanto wins EPA approval for dicamba-based weed killer

Reuters is saying that the EPA’s approval had been expected, and is a major step forward in Monsanto’s development of new herbicide-tolerant products to combat the rising problem of “superweeds.”

This means that farmers will no longer have to illegally spray their genetically modified (GMO) cotton and soybeans with older versions of the extremely volatile and drift-prone herbicide. Because of the illegal spraying this past summer, 10 states reported widespread crop damage.

According to EcoWatch, the EPA and state agencies received an “unusually high” number of reports of severe crop damage that appear to have been the result of illegal spraying of dicamba.

The EPA received reports of crop damage from 10 states, including Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Missouri was the hardest hit, with 125 complaints of damage to a number of crops, including peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, cotton, peas, peanuts, alfalfa and soybeans.

Not everyone is happy about the EPA’s approval of the herbicide. The Center for Biological Diversity claims that this will only increase the use of pesticides that will be harmful to plant and animal life. “Piling on more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a scientist with the group.

The EPA’s registration of dicamba
According to the EPA, Monsanto’s XtendiMax with VaporGrip technology is designed for in-crop use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend GMO soybeans which have been developed to tolerate applications of glyphosate and dicamba.

The XtendiMax herbicide is also for use on Monsanto’s Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, which is also tolerant to glyphosate and dicamba, as well as glufosinate.

Dicamba has been used for years on farmer’s field to kill weeds before planting. Now, it can be applied directly to the growing crops. Monsanto has invested over $1.0 billion in its dicamba production facility in Luling, Louisiana in anticipation of dicamba use really taking off in the U.S.

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