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Arkansas Could Become First State to Ban Dicamba
The Arkansas Dicamba Task Force has recommended a cut-off date for the use of the highly drift-prone and volatile herbicide by next April 15 for the 2018 season.
The state agriculture department has logged 950 misuse complaints in 26 counties as of August 23.
Although dicamba has been around for decades, Monsanto, DuPont and BASF SE sells new formulations of the product that is supposedly less drift-prone and volatile than older versions when used correctly. The herbicide can be applied to crops genetically engineered by Monsanto to resist the herbicide. But off-target fruits, vegetables and other crops are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical.
Weed specialists suspect that the thousands of crop damage reports arising across the country's farm belt are linked to dicamba exposure. Roughly 3.1 million acres have been impacted as of Aug. 10, according to Kevin Bradley, an associate professor in the University of Missouri's Division of Plant Sciences.
A video from the Arkansas Farm Bureau describes how dicamba "has become the most difficult issue the Arkansas State Plant Board and University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture weed scientists have faced in years."
Arkansas temporarily banned the use and sale of dicamba last month. Missouri and Tennessee took similar actions.
The issues surrounding dicamba surfaced last year when Monsanto sold its Xtend cotton and soybean seeds several growing seasons before getting federal approval for the corresponding herbicide. Without having the proper herbicide, cotton and soybean growers were suspected of illegally spraying older versions of dicamba onto their crops and inadvertently damaging nearby non-target crops due to drift.
The St. Louis-based seed-maker told Reuters that the task force's recommendation will put Arkansas farmers at a disadvantage to those in other states. Spokeswoman Charla Lord explained that Monsanto is in talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which "is interested in achieving national uniformity with dicamba regulation in order to avoid a state patchwork." BASF and DuPont did not provide Reuters with comments.
The task force also made two other recommendations, according to BrownfieldAgNews:
- Fix the regulations as they are now concerning penalties for violators of dicamba misuse to remove the requirement for proof of damage. Misuse should constitute a violation.
- Request more independent/university testing before new products come to market (seed and chemical). And the entire "package" must be ready at once.
Arkansas' governor and state agencies will review the recommendations before making a decision. A timeline not yet been disclosed.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.