Monsanto’s Brazilian unit plans to launch field tests of its genetically modified dicamba-resistant soyabean in Brazil in the 2019-20 season with an eye on commercial introduction in the following year.

Brazilian regulators approved Monsanto’s INTACTA2 XTEND soyabeans in 2016 and the company said it would launch them in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in mid-January, breaking from its earlier stand of not releasing marketing plans for the products, Reuters wrote on 11 January.

“This new technology will boost weed control, particularly of some weed varieties that are resistant to glyphosate,” Monsanto said.

The firm’s earlier soya varieties carried genes that made them resistant to the glyphosate weed killer, but some weeds had absorbed these genes and also become resistant as a result, prompting Monsanto to begin pushing its dicamba-resisting seeds.

However, dicamba-based herbicides caused a controversy in the USA in late 2017, when farmers flooded state agri departments with complaints that the product had evaporated from the fields and drifted to non-resistant crops, causing mass crop damage.

Data from the University of Missouri showed that approximately 4% of US soya plantings – or nearly 1.5M ha – suffered damage from dicamba in 2017, Reuters reported.

But according to Monsanto and BASF, which is in the process of acquiring the agrochemicals manufacturer for US$63.5bn, dicamba was safe when properly applied and US farmers had failed to follow the detailed 4,550-word instructions on product labels.

Nonetheless, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated in December that farmers using dicamba attend special training session and keep records of compliance with the label instructions.

As a result, North Dakota said in early December that it planned to ban dicamba after 30 June 2018 and when temperatures surpassed 29.4°C, while Missouri intended to finalise restrictions on the XtendiMax herbicide after banning BASF’s dicamba weed killer Engenia statewide from 15 July 2018, Reuters wrote at the time.