The US state of Arkansas voted on 19 January to ban the use of Monsanto’s controversial dicamba-based herbicide in the summer growing season after masses of farmers experienced crop damage tied to the product.
The use of Monsanto’s Xtend-branded weed killer would be prohibited between 16 April and 31 October due to complaints from farmers and weed experts that, last year, the herbicide evaporated from sprayed areas and damaged crops not engineered to resist it, Reuters wrote on 19 January.
Earlier in 2017, Arkansas blocked the sales of Monsanto’s XtendoMax with VaporGrip product as the company, which is being acquired by BASF for US$63.5bn, did not provide testing data requested by state officials.
Monsanto and BASF had repeatedly claimed that their dicamba-based herbicides were safe when used according to their extensive label instructions and the former firm had sued Arkansas to prevent the ban from taking place, Reuters said.
But farmers who had their crops damaged last year welcomed the ban, with Arkansas farmer Reed Storey calling for Monsanto to develop a dicamba product that would not evaporate and drift like Xtend products.
“Until they can find a newer formulation, then I’m completely tickled pink with the decision,” Reed told Reuters.
Other states, among them Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota, had also set restriction on the use of dicamba in 2018 due to last year’s damages.
Nonetheless, Monsanto expected that US farmers would grow its dicamba-resistant soyabeans on 16.2M ha this year, which would be twice the area planted in 2017 and account for 44% of total US soyabean planted area.