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Federal Court Overturns Monsanto Herbicide Approval

Peter Miller / Flickr Creative Commons / Cropped


A federal appeals court on Wednesday said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shouldn’t have approved a weedkiller called dicamba.


Dicamba has been used for over 50 years, but only to clear fields of weeds before crops are grown. In 2016, the EPA approved a new formula of the chemical, developed by Monsanto, to be used directly on crops. And, in 2018, it extended that approval for two more years.

But, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, that approval violated federal pesticide law. The court said the EPA didn’t consider the herbicide’s cost to farming communities.

Dicamba can drift in hot or windy weather, causing damage to the surrounding environment. That means even if a farmer doesn’t use the herbicide, it can drift over from neighboring farms.

An attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing over the EPA’s approval, called the decision a massive win. The organization said dicamba has damaged millions of acres of plant life.

The EPA or Monsanto could choose to appeal the ruling. But it only applies through the 2020 growing season. And a company spokesperson said Monsanto is already trying to register dicamba for use in the 2021 season.

Ozzy Llinas Goodman is a freelance writer and journalist based in Berkeley. Their reporting interests include the uses and policing of public space, underground communities and solidarity economies, and other topics related to human movement, urban space, and civil rights.