The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will allow farmers for the next five years to spray crops with a Bayer AG weed killer whose sales were blocked by a U.S. appeals court in June, Administrator Andrew Wheeler said on Tuesday.
XtendiMax, a dicamba-based herbicide that is sprayed on soybeans and cotton genetically engineered to resist it, is known to drift away and damage other crops that are not resistant to it.
“This decision includes a five-year registration, providing certainty to growers as they make future purchasing decisions,” Wheeler told reporters on a call.
The approval, he said, eliminates problems with the previous approval because it increases the size of buffer zones between crops sprayed with dicamba and other crops, as well as buffer zones with endangered species.
Wheeler said the expansion is not “automatic” and states would have to file “appropriate requests.”
The decision is a boost for Bayer, which has been hammered by lawsuits over various chemicals in the United States since acquiring seed company Monsanto in 2018.
The EPA also approved the use of BASF SE’s Engenia herbicide and extended an approval for Syngenta’s Tavium.
Environmental groups have sought a ban on dicamba products, arguing they harm nearby plants and wildlife.