But, Monsanto went ahead and started selling its dicamba-resistant soybeans before this herbicide was approved. It gave farmers a new weed-killing tool that they couldn't legally use.
Monsanto says it did so because these seeds weren't just resistant to dicamba; they also offered higher yields, which farmers wanted. In an email to The Salt, Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs, wrote that "there's incredible value in the Xtend technology independent of herbicide applications: There is great demand for strong yield performance and our latest industry leading genetics." Monsanto says it also made it clear to farmers that they were not allowed to spray dicamba on these dicamba-resistant beans.
Farmers themselves, however, may have had other ideas.
Farmers in this part of the country are struggling to control a weed called Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed. Many of the weedkillers they've used in the past don't work anymore. Weed expert Bob Scott says they're desperate for new tools. "If we didn't need this so bad, we wouldn't be having this conversation," he says.