If you use dicamba, you're no doubt aware of the cancellation of three dicamba registrations as a result of a Ninth Circuit Court decision in June 2020. Two of the products in question — Bayer's XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, and BASF's Engenia herbicide — were re-approved by the EPA in October 2020, as was Syngenta's Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology herbicide. The third dicamba formulation that had been cancelled — Corteva's FeXapan herbicide — has since been discontinued by the company.
On March 10, 2021, Michal Freedhoff, acting head of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) indicated in an internal memo that she believes the former EPA leadership was politically-motivated and cherry-picked data when approving the 2018 dicamba registrations. In the memo, she says, "In 2018, OCSPP senior leadership directed career staff to: (1) rely on a limited data set of plant effects endpoints; (2) discount specific studies (some with more robust data) used in assessing potential risks and benefits; and (3) discount scientific information on negative impacts. This interference contributed to a court's vacating registrations based on these and other deficiencies, which in turn impacted growers' ability to use this product."
A recent editorial in The Counter explores the impacts of this memo and questions the longevity of the late-2020 dicamba registrations, which extended the approvals for the herbicides for 5 years. With new lawsuits against the dicamba products already back in court and considering the current leadership's perspective on the previous administration, it's quite possible we'll see another reversal in the near future. Should that happen, what remains to be seen is how the Biden administration will respond.
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