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US environmental regulators are under increasing pressure over a controversial pesticide known for laying waste to nearby crops as well as the harmful weeds it is meant to control.
Critics worried about the harm are calling for increased restrictions, following the example of many states, while producers and some farmers want fewer obstacles to use of a chemical they view as one of their last options.
Roundup - Herbicide - Monsanto - Dicamba - Market
Much like Roundup, another much-criticized herbicide marketed by Monsanto, dicamba has been on the market a long time. But use of the chemical has jumped since Monsanto—which was bought by Germany's Bayer in June—introduced seeds that can resist the weed-killer.
Dicamba has been a boon for farmers at a time when they have seen other leading herbicides lose their effectiveness and the battle against damaging weeds. Use of seeds resistant to dicamba doubled over the last year, reaching 20 million hectares (50 million acres) this summer.
Product - Percent - US - Soybean - Fields
But the product has been blamed for polluting around four percent of US soybean fields in 2017. A common complaint is that the herbicide is volatile, meaning it spreads to nearby areas.
It is only meant for use during the growing season for plants resistant to the chemical, and the US Environmental Protection Agency last year received reports of "significant crop damage from off-field movement of dicamba."
EPA - Use - Weed-killer - Years - November
The EPA authorized use of the weed-killer for two years, through November, so it will soon need to announce any changes to the rules on when and how it can be used.
While total reports of contamination have fallen, they have declined sharply in states that imposed tough regulations on the pesticide, while increasing in states that have not, such as Illinois and Missouri, according to the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials.
Mid-August - Complaints - Acres - Seed
As of mid-August, there were 13 complaints per million acres of seed used, compared with 99...
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