U.S. farmers needn’t worry about massive herbicide-related crop damage after a federal appellate court affirmed a nationwide ban on the controversial weed killer dicamba, as reported by Progressive Farmer.
The decision comes as some farmers have said the widely used herbicide has cost them their livelihoods, and one dicamba manufacturer has admitted the product is a “ticking time bomb” that has “finally exploded,” as MedTruth reported.
The ruling on August 17 upholds an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In that decision, the judges determined the dicamba herbicides XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF) and FeXapan (Corteva Agriscience) threatened nearby crops and banned their use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency then canceled registrations of the products to prohibit their use beyond July 31, 2020.
In upholding the ban on dicamba, the judges wrote, “The full court has been advised of the petitions for rehearing en banc, and no judge of the court has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc.” “En banc” is when a case is heard before all of the judges of a court, rather than a three-judge panel.
Dicamba is an effective weed killer that has been used for more than 50 years on soybeans, cotton and other crops. But dicamba’s strong tendency to drift threatens surrounding plant life that is not genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, which an appellate panel of the 9th Circuit noted in an earlier decision.
Bayer spokesperson Charla Lord said that the company strongly disagreed with the original ruling banning dicamba and insisted that the court "cherry-picked the record and disregarded the EPA's expert scientific judgment,” as Law360 reported.
As of June 26th, Bayer has agreed to a $400 million settlement for harm caused by the drifting herbicide, as reported by Progressive Farmer. The company will pay up to $300 million to soybean farmers who suffered yield losses from dicamba-related damage from 2015 through 2020, and another $100 million to non-soybean injury claims.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is the sole legal option left to the makers of dicamba to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling, per Progressive Farmer.