Quantcast
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.


Bradley, who has extensively tracked the damage caused by dicamba, noted that this is the third growing season in a row where off-target crops and trees have been affected.

During the 2017 crop season—the first year Monsanto's new dicamba-based XtendiMax was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on the company's Xtend soybeans and cotton—the herbicide reportedly damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres of off-target crops in more than two dozen states.

Similar devastation occurred in 2016, when 10 states reported hundreds of thousands of crop acres adversely impacted by the apparent misuse of older, unapproved versions of the herbicide.

It appears dicamba damage has roared back this summer. Bradley wrote:

"Many growers in [Missouri] have adopted the Xtend trait so they don't experience dicamba injury on their soybean crop for a third season in a row. Since the adoption of the Xtend trait is so high in this area, relatively speaking there seem to be fewer soybean fields with injury this year compared to last. However, just as in the past two seasons, there are still fields of non-Xtend soybean in this area showing injury from one end to the other. More surprising to me than that has been the extent of the trees that are showing symptoms of growth regulator herbicide injury in that part of the state where the adoption of this trait is so high."

Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sell new formulations of the herbicide said to be less drift-prone and volatile than older versions when used correctly.

Monsanto's chief technology officer Robert Fraley, who recently announced that he and other top executives are stepping down from the company after Bayer AG's multi-billion dollar takeover, tweeted on June 16 that there were "very few injury reports so far this year" due to the company's efforts to make instructions for proper spraying easier to follow.

However, a Twitter used named @rkbier tweeted back on June 21: "Our fruit trees and tomatoes in our yard are a mile away from the nearest dicamba field and have damage. EVERY acre of [LibertyLink] and [non-GMO] bean on our fields is damaged no matter how far away from dicamba they are. There are BIG problems."

Of the 15 state departments of agriculture that responded to requests for information, only 43 cases of alleged injury are currently under investigation with soybeans, Bradley said in a University of Missouri press release.

Bradley expressed concern about Xtend technology adoption increasing this year and in ensuing years, noting that Monsanto expects 2018 Xtend acres to double from 2017 to 50 million acres in 2018.

DTN reported that the EPA is planning to make a decision by mid-August on whether or not to extend the registrations of XtendiMax, BASF's Engenia and DuPont's FeXapan, which expire Nov. 2018, as Tony Cofer, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, explained to the website.

"Our goal is to make a regulatory decision in time to inform seed and weed management purchase decisions for the 2019 growing season," an EPA spokesperson also told DTN via email.

Here are the soybean injury numbers, by acres, in individual states, according to the University of Missouri:

  • Arkansas 100,000
  • Illinois: 150,000
  • Indiana: 5,000
  • Iowa: 1,200
  • Kansas: 100
  • Kentucky: 500
  • Nebraska: 40
  • Missouri: 25,000
  • Mississippi: 100,000
  • Tennessee: 2,000

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Politics
The Power Shift 2011 rally targeted primarily the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for using its money and influence to stop climate and clean energy legislation. Linh Do, CC BY 2.0

Fossil Fuel Industry Outspent Environmentalists and Renewables by 10:1 on Climate Lobbying, New Study Finds

By Itai Vardi

Industry sectors based on fossil fuels significantly outspent environmental groups and renewable energy companies on climate change lobbying, new research has found.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Climatic Change, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle shows that between 2000 and 2016, lobbyists spent more than $2 billion trying to influence climate legislation in the U.S. Congress.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pexels

Is Your Popcorn Laced With Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals?

By Kathryn Alcantar and Jose Bravo / Independent Media Institute

No one should be exposed to toxic chemicals in their food, particularly children. But that's exactly what the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found in tests of microwave popcorn bags sold in Dollar Stores. These stores are frequented by communities of color and millions of poor Americans.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Climate Change May Stimulate the Chesapeake’s Blue Crab Population

By Amy Mcdermott

Jason McElwain isn't afraid of a pinch. He reached calmly into a basket of live crabs one Friday this June, and kept his cool even when a claw clamped down hard on his finger. "You get used to it after a while," he said, then yanked the crab off and tossed it into a plastic bin.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Pexels

A Brief History of the Feral Blackberry

By Sara Bir

Blackberries are perhaps the best known of all foraged wild fruits. Whether they grow modestly on the perimeters of a ramshackle farm or thrive ruthlessly along the banks of a forgotten creek, there are hundreds of hidden wild blackberry havens waiting for opportunistic berry fanatics.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Joshua Tree National Park now has more unsafe ozone days than New York City. atramos / CC BY 2.0

Air Pollution in National Parks as Bad as 20 Largest U.S. Cities

A new study shows the importance of clean air regulations to prevent air pollution from reaching national parks.

A study published in Science Advances Wednesday found that, between 1990 and 2014, the ozone concentrations in 33 of the largest and most visited national parks were statistically indistinguishable from the ozone concentrations in the 20 largest U.S. cities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Halliburton getting ready to frack in the Bakken formation, which underlies North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Joshua Doubek / CC BY-SA 3.0

Zinke’s Real Estate Deal With Halliburton Chair to Be Investigated

Ousted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt isn't the only polluter-friendly Trump appointee with sketchy ethics.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
"From 1992 to 2016, heat killed 783 workers in the U.S. and seriously injured nearly 70,000, according to a new report on heat risks." InsideClimateNews / USDA

Protect Workers From Extreme Heat, Advocates Urge OSHA

A broad coalition of worker advocacy, public health and environmental groups on Tuesday called on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a workplace standard for heat stress.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!