At Monsanto, we focus on bringing farmers a broad range of solutions to help them sustainably grow their crops. Increasingly, our aim is to develop solutions that are integrated and complementary. We are working in the areas of plant breeding, biotechnology, data science and chemistry to bring farmers products and services that work together as a system to help farmers achieve their best possible harvest.

Earlier this year, we introduced part of a new system for soybeans called Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, after a similar launch for cotton in 2015 that was successful. This season, farmers were able to test out the new soybean seeds, which we spent a decade developing. Next season, we hope to be able to offer farmers another key component of the system: a complementary weed killer called dicamba, which will help farmers protect against troublesome weeds that steal sunlight, water and nutrients from crops.

Importantly, there is no single right way for all farmers to manage weeds. That’s why we offer a variety of tools and work with university researchers, industry partners and others to provide recommendations to help farmers diversify their approach to weed management. Our dicamba products, once approved, will be just one more tool to help.

Ideally, we would have introduced the full Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybean system this season. However, our dicamba products are still in the late stages of approval with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are not available to farmers yet. Some dicamba products are currently available from other companies, but are not approved by the EPA for use on our Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans.

Even without the ability to use dicamba this year, our new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans contain our latest and greatest germplasm, which can help farmers produce their best possible crop. Therefore, we introduced the seed in order to give farmers a chance to test out our latest soybean varieties and assess how well they grow on their farm. Making the new soybeans available allows our customers to decide if they want to invest more acres in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans next year, when the EPA has indicated dicamba would be approved.

Although we have not introduced any dicamba products, we did a number of things to remind farmers that dicamba could not be used on the soybeans and cotton yet, including training, education, prominent reminders on our seed bags, letters to dealers and farmers, and use of mass media.

Reports alleging that some applicators are illegally using dicamba are concerning. However, it is our experience that the overwhelming majority of farmers comply with the law and follow best stewardship practices. Since we are not directly involved with any state investigation into these reports, we will not draw conclusions or perpetuate rumors. But, we are confident that state officials will evaluate the situation and take appropriate action. Monsanto does not condone the illegal use of any pesticide for any purpose.

Farmers are the lifeblood of our company. My colleagues and I are committed to staying in close communication with our customers as we learn more and better understand the situation.

We remain very optimistic about the future of dicamba. In particular, we look forward to introducing our low volatility dicamba products that will help farmers significantly reduce off-target movement. We invite anyone with questions about dicamba to visit the Conversation.

Originally published August 4, 2016 by Wes Matthews