The state of Arkansas is known according to its tourism advertisements as “The Natural State,” but the state’s biggest controversy right now involves something far from natural: Monsanto’s harsh toxic weedkiller dicamba, which is routinely used on soybean fields.
The use of this weedkiller is controversial to say the least, as it has been deemed responsible for destroying many acres of crops on neighboring farms due to wind drift, leading to a ban slated to go into effect this spring through fall.
Despite that, Monsanto refuses to let go and has become locked in a fierce battle with government regulators. And now they’ve taken it upon themselves to sue state board members who instituted the ban, calling their decision “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful” according to this article from the website NPR.
Monsanto Goes After Lawmakers
Known for suing farmers, Monsanto has upped the ante and sued the Arkansas State Plant Board, which regulates pesticides and seeds, as well as all 18 separate board members, for their decision to ban the controversial dicamba herbicide.
The decision to ban was made because of widespread damage from the chemicals, which drift for a mile or more in times of hotter weather and destroy crops everywhere.
At first, the chemicals worked well according to committee member Terry Fuller, one of the members who is being sued by Monsanto. But then they began to drift far away from their intended target, causing hidden clouds of destruction that caused everything from backyard garden tomatoes to neighboring farms’ crops to have stunted growth and curled up leaves, dying in many cases.
Millions of acres across the country have been affected including the largest peach farm in Monsanto’s home state of Missouri. It got so bad that Fuller knew something had to be done.
“I could not walk out of my house without seeing damage,” says Fuller according to NPR.
While the ban may be good news for farmers and gardeners who’ve had their crops destroyed, there are also plenty of farmers who rely on the herbicide that are not happy about it. Six farmers have filed a lawsuit against the board as well, and hundreds of others have signed a petition calling for the board to reconsider.
Monsanto meanwhile continues to pull out all the stops in order to prevent the lawmakers from upholding the decision, aside from the lawsuits against them they’ve also been accused of “buying their way through Arkansas politics” by one farmer upset with a near-decision to reverse the ban.
Arkansas Shows Just How Far Monsanto Will Go
As anyone who has followed the Monsanto company knows, they will go to great lengths to protect their products, even when their destructive nature is clearly shown.
They have sued lawmakers and farmers, paid academics who pose as independent journalistic voices, and even sued the farmers themselves for patent infringement (you can see a great mini-documentary about it here).
While some farmers may indeed rely on these chemicals (and the GMO lab-created seeds designed to withstand their sprayings), it goes without saying that any product that damages neighboring fields to the degree dicamba should be regulated.
The question now is whether or not Arkansas will adjust, or whether this “David vs. Goliath” battle will continue to be waged. For more info, check out the full article from NPR by clicking here.
Photo via Stuart Seeger/Flickr free photo.