Today, the Emmett Clinic filed an amicus brief in a 9th Circuit case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Monsanto’s XtendiMax—a new formulation of the highly-volatile and toxic herbicide dicamba. EPA conditionally approved the product in 2016, based in part on Monsanto’s assurances that its formulation was less volatile than previous dicamba formulations. Environmental and farming organizations challenged this decision in court.
Monsanto developed this new herbicide in response to increasing resistance to glyphosate (Roundup) in weeds. Although dicamba is normally lethal to broadleaf crops such as soybeans and cotton, Monsanto genetically engineered varieties of these crops to be resistant to dicamba. During the application process, commenters warned EPA that dicamba is very volatile and therefore has a tendency to drift, risking harm to other farmers’ fields or native vegetation. As the Clinic’s brief explains, EPA’s approval of the herbicide resulted in widespread harm throughout the South and Midwest in 2017: at least 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 24 states were damaged by dicamba drift. Farmers who want to plant soybeans feel that they have lost their freedom of choice: either they plant Monsanto’s resistant seeds or risk having their crops killed by drift from a neighboring farmer’s field. EPA should not place farmers in this untenable position.
The Emmett Clinic filed this brief on behalf of several farmer support organizations: Family Farm Defenders, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Iowa Organic Association, Kansas Rural Center, Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., Organic Farmers Association, and Save Our Crops Coalition. Clinic student Heather Romero (JD ’19) and Deputy Director Shaun Goho wrote the brief.