Monsanto to launch product that deactivates dicamba

Monsanto Co is launching the first product that deactivates a controversial weed killer inside spraying equipment after it is used, in its latest attempt to prevent unintended crop damage associated with the herbicide.  The product aims to stop farmers from accidentally applying traces of the herbicide, known as dicamba, on crops that can not tolerate it when the chemical’s residue remains in spraying equipment.

Dicamba herbicides, which are also sold by BASF SE and DowDuPont Inc, vaporize and drift, potentially endangering other crops.  Monsanto has blamed much of last year’s field damage on improper applications, including by farmers who did not adequately clean spraying equipment. The company has said its dicamba-based herbicide is safe when used properly.

The new product that deactivates dicamba will be launched in the coming weeks, as US farmers advance crop plantings.

“Having technologies like this, it helps farmers be able to really just focus in further on ensuring their sprayer systems are clean and preventing this from happening,” said Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto’s dicamba portfolio lead.

 Monsanto, which is being acquired by Bayer AG, is banking on its dicamba-based herbicide and soybean seeds engineered to resist it to dominate soybean production in the United States, the world’s second-largest exporter. Facing complaints last year, the company proposed changes to the herbicide’s label instructions that the US Environmental Protection Agency approved for 2018.