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Why Has US Court Banned Three Weedkillers?

Federal ruling deals blow to Agrochemical Giants, halts Dicamba-based products amid environmental concerns

KJ Staff
Thismove marks the second instance where federal courts have prohibited these weedkillers since their introduction for the 2017 growing season. (Representational Image, Picture Courtesy: Pexels)
Thismove marks the second instance where federal courts have prohibited these weedkillers since their introduction for the 2017 growing season. (Representational Image, Picture Courtesy: Pexels)

US court has ruled to ban three widely used weedkillers in American agriculture, citing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) breach of legal protocols in permitting their distribution.

US Court Finds EPA's Approval Illegal

The verdict specifically targets three dicamba-based herbicides produced by Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta. These products have faced accusations of causing extensive crop damage and posing threats to endangered species and natural habitats across the Midwest and Southern regions.

Banned Weedkillers Repeated Legal Battles

This marks the second instance where federal courts have prohibited these weedkillers since their introduction for the 2017 growing season. Initially, in 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals imposed a ban. However, the Trump administration later reinstated their usage, drawing controversy just ahead of the presidential election.

EPA's Oversight Criticised Weedkillers

Federal Judge David Bury, presiding over the case in Arizona, highlighted a critical error by the EPA in reapproving dicamba. Bury emphasised that the agency failed to adhere to legal requirements for public notice and comment, indicating a serious violation. He asserted that a comprehensive analysis would likely have led to a different decision.

Weedkillers' Environmental and Agricultural Impacts

Dicamba, introduced to American agriculture in 1967, has historically been limited in warm months due to its volatility, causing widespread damage when temperatures rise. The chemical's propensity to drift and volatilise poses risks to adjacent areas and water bodies, impacting both crops and the environment.

Corporate Accountability of Weedkillers

Major manufacturers such as Monsanto (now part of Bayer) and BASF introduced new dicamba formulations, claiming reduced volatility. However, evidence emerged during litigation suggesting that the companies were aware of potential off-target damage. The EPA's rushed approval process further exacerbated concerns over the herbicide's safety.

Industry Response and Legal Ramifications of Weedkillers

Following the ruling, Bayer expressed disagreement and is evaluating its response to the decision. BASF similarly stated it is considering legal options and awaits guidance from the EPA. Syngenta has yet to comment on the verdict.

Broader Context and Ramifications

This development compounds Bayer's existing legal challenges, including lawsuits related to Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicides, which have incurred substantial financial losses. Similarly, Syngenta faces litigation concerning its paraquat herbicide, adding to the industry's growing legal and regulatory scrutiny.

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