Court blocks Bayer weed killer sales in US06/05/2020
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A U.S. appeals court has blocked Bayer AG from selling an agricultural weed killer in the United States, the latest setback for a business already fighting an expensive legal battle over another product.
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A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency substantially understated the risks related to the use of dicamba, a chemical found in herbicides sold by Bayer and rivals that are sprayed on genetically engineered soybeans and cotton. The herbicides are known to drift away and damage other crops that are not resistant.
The lawsuit was among those German-based Bayer inherited when it bought Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. The company faces separate allegations that its glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup causes cancer.
Environmental groups have sought cancellation of the EPA’s approval of Monsanto’s dicamba-based XtendiMax herbicide, arguing it harms nearby plants and wildlife.
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The court agreed, and its ruling, issued on Wednesday, also blocks sales of dicamba-based herbicides like BASF’s Engenia and Corteva Agriscience’s FeXapan.
Bayer and BASF said they disagreed with the judgment. Corteva said it was reviewing the decision and believed dicamba could be used safely.
Shares in Bayer fell 4%, while BASF’s stock recovered after initial losses and Corteva’s stock rose 3%.
Bayer said the ruling related to the agency’s 2018 registration decision that expires in December and that it was seeking new EPA registration for the herbicide for 2021 and beyond. The EPA said it was reviewing the court’s decision and would move promptly to address its order.
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“Depending upon actions by the EPA and whether the ruling is successfully challenged, we will work quickly to minimize any impact on our customers this season,” Bayer said.
RULING PRAISED, CRITICIZED
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue criticized the ruling and said it was unclear if farmers who had already purchased dicamba products for the current soy season could legally use them.