kunc-header-1440x90.png
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and competition for resources has widespread ramifications. We all eat, so we all have a stake in how our food is produced. Our goal is to provide in-depth and unbiased reporting on things like climate change, food safety, biofuel production, animal welfare, water quality and sustainability.

Bayer Looking To Expand Dicamba Use To Corn Despite Lawsuit, Drift Damage

Farmers like Tommy Riley of Missouri's bootheel have relied upon dicamba resistant  soybeans and cotton to improve yield.
Jonathan Ahl
/
Harvest Public Media file photo
Farmers like Tommy Riley of Missouri's bootheel have relied upon dicamba resistant soybeans and cotton to improve yield.

A company that makes dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton wants to expand use of the controversial weed killer to corn. But critics and experts questioning the logic of the petition.

Bayer, the new parent company of Monsanto, asked the Environmental Protection Agency in March to expand dicamba use to corn with its Xtendimax Herbicide product.

Bayer declined a request for an interview, but said in a statement that it “does not anticipate launching XtendFlex corn until early-to-mid-next decade,” and that the expansion “would add more flexibility to manage weeds through enhanced dicamba tolerance and added crop safety.”

But the problems dicamba has wrought in recent years is a red flag when considering any expansion, according to Iowa State University professor Bob Hartzler.

“It seems like if we can not fix this problem within those five years, how the EPA would even consider any expansion in the use of dicamba would boggle my mind,” said Hartzler, who’s also a weed specialist.

Hartzler said the drift problem needs to be addressed

“By the time these products are registered, hopefully we will have products that will be less likely to move,” Hartzler said. “But there is a concern with increased usage that we will see continued movement from the fields.”

Ultimately, Hartzler said, the EPA should do a thorough scientific review before approving dicamba for corn.

“In my opinion, it seems like the science did not forecast the problems we’ve seen with the use in soybeans, and so I think other things need to be looked at,” Hartzler said.

A lawsuit could play a role in any expanded use, too. More than 1,000 farmers are suing Bayer for damage done to their crops because of dicamba drift. If the suit fails, herbicide and seed companies could say that farmers and their insurance companies are on the hook for any future damage dicamba causes.

“If the insurance companies are held responsible for the off-target movement, then they would no longer be willing to ensure applicators,” Hartzler said. “And I don’t think most applicators would be willing to take the risk if they were going to be held responsible.”

The EPA is taking public comment on Bayer’s petition for corn use through April 17.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Copyright 2020 Harvest Public Media. To see more, visit .

Jonathan Ahl joined Iowa Public Radio as News Director in July 2008. He leads the news and talk show teams in field reporting, feature reporting, audio documentaries, and talk show content. With more than 17 years in public media, Jonathan is a nationally award-winning reporter that has worked at public radio stations in Macomb, Springfield and Peoria, IL. He served WCBU-FM in Peoria as news director before coming to Iowa. He also served as a part-time instructor at Bradley University teaching journalism and writing courses. Jonathan is currently serving a second term as president of PRNDI ââ
Jonathan Ahl
Jonathan Ahl reports from Missouri for Harvest Public Media. He also is the Rolla Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. Before coming to St. Louis Public Radio in November of 2018, Jonathan was the General Manager for Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Illinois. He previously was the News Director at Iowa Public Radio and before that at WCBU in Peoria, Illinois. Jonathan has also held reporting positions in central Illinois for public radio stations. Jonathan is originally from the Chicago area. He has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is an avid long distance runner, semi-professional saxophonist and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.
Related Content