Opinion: The top agricultural story of 2020 is…

In a normal year we would be debating several worthy agricultural stories as the most important. We certainly would be taking a hard look at the continuing dicamba herbicide saga. 2020 saw the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit de-register dicamba formulations in the middle of the growing season from Bayer AG, Corteva, and BASF because of shoddy regulatory control at the Environmental Protection Agency:

Opinion: Dicamba 2021…haven’t we seen this movie before?

Movie plot: In a heroic effort to save the world's soybean crop from dastardly evolving weeds the Environmental Protection Agency authorizes Big Ag – staring Bayer AG and BASF – to unleash the flawed herbicide dicamba in a desperate all-out assault. The EPA acknowledges the holy h-e-double-toothpicks of dicamba is risky but assures everyone they've “got a label” for that. Dicamba beats back the weed invaders, but collateral damage is huge to the nation's peach, cotton, tobacco, tomato, and sunflower crops. EPA says it's sorry about all the unwanted damage and swears to tweak dicamba rules of weed engagement and next time it will be difference (cue patriotic music and American flags).

EPA documents show dicamba damage worse than previously thought

The pesticide harmed tens of thousands of farmers, overwhelmed state agriculture departments and damaged research plots across the United States, according to documents the federal agency released Tuesday. Wide swaths of natural areas and rural communities were also poisoned.

EPA takes steps to allow continued use of pesticides linked to cancer, brain development issues in children

The Trump administration in recent days took steps toward continuing to allow the use of two popular pesticides linked to developmental issues in children. In both cases, the agency weakened its metrics for assessing human health protections. On Sept. 18, the EPA approved the continued use of atrazine, the second most commonly sprayed herbicide in the United States. Atrazine, whose main manufacturer is Syngenta, is banned in more than 35 countries, including the European Union, because of its links to human health, which include reproductive issues, an increased chance of birth defects, a loss of fertility in men and a potential to cause cancer.