BAYER, BASF BET ON ADDITIVES VS PESTICIDE DRIFT
Bayer and BASF are seeking the approval of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use a novel additive that would water down dicamba drift and thus allow the broad spectrum pesticide to be used in the US, Dan Nosowitz reported for the US trade journal, Modern Farmer.
In June 2020, an appeals court ruled that dicamba should never have been approved by the federal government—effectively banning it. Dicamba’s major problem is its tendency to drift onto unprotected farms and forests. It has damaged millions of acres of farmland in the four years since dicamba-resistant seeds were first sold. But two huge chemical companies, Bayer and BASF, have proposed what they claim is a solution, one that would allow dicamba to stay on the market.
Bayer and BASF are banking on the use of adjuvants, a term also used in pharmaceuticals, which generally refers to any mix-in material for pesticides that increase its effectiveness or decrease side effects.
BASF’s adjuvant is called Sentris, to go along with its dicamba-based Engenia herbicide. Bayer hasn’t announced a name yet for its adjuvant, which would be partnered with Bayer’s XtendiMax dicamba herbicide. According to Cotton Grower, these adjuvants work by decreasing the amount of air bubbles in the dicamba mix; one company working on an adjuvant says their product can decrease drift by about 60 percent. Earlier, Bayer and BASF denied that drift was an inherent issue, blaming the problem on improper use by farmers. Bayer is in financial trouble, partly due to its acquisition of Monsanto in 2018. That acquisition has required billions of dollars in settlements for glyphosate-related cancer lawsuits, and $400 million as a settlement for dicamba drift. Just a few weeks ago, Bayer unveiled billions of dollars in cuts, causing huge drops in its already-depressed stock price.