The Monsanto Company has come under fire in recent years for its alleged unethical tactics in defending glyphosate, the main ingredient of its flagship weedkiller Roundup.
But while the spotlight has been focused squarely on glyphosate, serious problems have presented themselves in America’s heartland due to the use of Dicamba, a harsh pesticide that is causing immense damage due to drift from wind gusts and causing multiple states (and farmers) to take action.
Now, one U.S. state has become the third in the country to place restrictions on Dicamba, with hopes of saving thousands of acres of crops from destruction.
Monsanto Chemical Causing Widespread Damage
The state in question, Tennessee, recently announced tight restrictions on when and in what weather Dicamba can be sprayed along with Missouri, while Arkansas announced an outright ban on its use.
In addition, Kansas is said to be investigating complaints of damage according to this article from the website Reuters.
“We’ve had damage across just about every acre of soybeans we farm in southeast Missouri,” said Hunter Raffety to the news outlet. “In our small town, the azaleas, the ornamentals, people have lost their vegetable gardens. It’s a big problem.”
Missouri farmers have dealt with the serious repercussions of the pesticide as well. The owner of the state’s largest peach farm, Bill Bader, has sued Monsanto as of December 2016 because of crop losses that were estimated to cost over a million dollars due to Dicamba drift from a nearby farm.
Bader’s peach trees withered and died in huge numbers, putting the future of the farm in serious doubt.
Monsanto is campaigning to overturn the bans, saying it has worked for years to make the pesticide stickier in order to limit drift while sprayed. But their work in this area has done little to mitigate damage the many of acres of fruit trees like Bader’s, soybeans, cotton and other crops that have been destroyed or damaged recently.
The pesticide is being sprayed more often in some areas due to Monsanto’s controversial, recently released Dicamba-resistant genetically engineered crops, which allow farmers to spray without worrying about harming their main crops. However, pesticide drift is proving to be a serious problem.
Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, said the following on a media call: “In almost every technology in that first year there are kinks that you need to work out.”
The question many have in mind for Fraley is whether those kinks will ever be worked out. For example in the case of Monsanto’s widely used Roundup Ready GE (also known as GMO) crops, Roundup resistant superweeds and superbugs have been wreaking havoc over the years, causing Monsanto to respond mostly by developing new chemical concoctions in order to fight them; that critics say are damaging the environment and do little to fix the root causes of the problem.
For more information on the continuing Dicamba/Monsanto controversy, check out the full Reuters article by clicking on this link.
Thumbnail photo via Dr. Jason Deveau/LinkedIn