Proposed 2,4-D Ban Stirs Controversy in Montana

Producers urged to study both sides of ban issue.

Published on: Feb 25, 2009

Controversy over the continued use of 2,4-D triggered a Montana pesticide official to urge producers to decide how they want to react.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban 2,4-D. It is time for those who use the pesticide to evaluate their need for the material, says Cecil Tharp, a Montana State University pesticide education specialist.

The pesticide, used in the U.S. since 1947, is a common ingredient in herbicide programs for farmers. Registered for many crops, it is one of the world's most widely-used pesticides.

The issue of banning 2,4-D is particularly of interest in wheat producing states like Montana, notes Tharp. He estimates that 51% of the spring wheat crop nationally uses the formulation. About 46 million pounds are used in the U.S. annually, he adds.

Roughly 25% of that total is used on pasture and rangelands, says Tharp.

The material is important in the control efforts against broadleaf weeds. Unlike glyphosate, which kills almost anything green, 2,4-D is a more selective material effective on noxious weeds while not causing damage to non-broadleaf grains and grasses.

While Tharp is careful not to take sides in the ban issue, he encourages Montanans to study the points raised by both sides of the 2,4-D issue.

To help, he and MSU Cropland Weed Specialist Fabian Menalled have written a pesticide advisory on pros and cons of banning the product. The document also gives NRDC's reasons for seeking the ban.

To read the advisory go to www.pesticides.montana.edu and click on Active AgAlerts at the right on the page. Tharp may be contacted directly at (406) 994-5067 or by e-mail at ctharp@montana.edu.