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Scientists Comment on New Dicamba Use Regulations
USAgNet - 10/16/2017

U.S. weed specialists doubted on Friday that new federal restrictions on the use of a controversial weed killer, sold by Monsanto Co and BASF, will prevent recurrences next year of crop damage linked to the chemical. According to Reuters, the impact of the rules limiting sprayings of dicamba herbicides, announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), may affect Monsanto's biggest-ever biotech seed launch - soybeans engineered to resist the chemical.

The EPA's new limits focus on the application issues and do not address volatilization, herbicide experts and farmers said.

Monsanto proposed the changes and won support for them from the agency, according to a company statement.

Growers across the U.S. farm belt said this summer that dicamba affected areas other than where it was sprayed on the Monsanto soybeans, called Xtend, damaging millions of acres of crops that could not tolerate the herbicides.

Monsanto has blamed much of the damage on improper application of dicamba. Specialists, though, say the weed killer is risky because they can vaporize and drift across fields, a process called volatilization.

Under EPA's guidelines, only certified pesticide applicators, or people under their supervision, will be allowed to spray dicamba formulations manufactured by Monsanto and BASF next year. That restriction may not do much to reduce crop damage related to sprayings, though, because many farmers and commercial applicators are already certified, experts said.

The EPA also said it was trimming the hours during each day, and lowering the maximum allowable wind speed during which dicamba may be sprayed in 2018. Additionally, farmers must keep records proving they are complying with label instructions.

The agency will monitor the impact of the restrictions to help determine whether it should allow farmers to spray dicamba after 2018 on crops that have emerged from the ground.

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