Quantcast
Food
www.youtube.com

States Face Four-Year Backlog to Investigate Dicamba Damage Complaints

Just this year, more than three million acres of crops across the country have been reportedly damaged by a highly volatile and drift-prone herbicide, dicamba. That's on top of the similar, widespread complaints from the year before.

States such as Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois have now received so many reports of dicamba-linked crop damage that officials face four years of backlogs of cases to investigate, driving up costs for lab tests and overtime, Reuters reported.


"We don't have the staff to be able to handle 400 investigations in a year plus do all the other required work," Paul Bailey, director of the Plant Industries division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, explained.

The controversy surrounding the weedkiller started last year after agritech giant Monsanto—in a highly criticized move—decided to sell its genetically modified, dicamba-tolerant 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 and volatilization. Off-target crops are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical.

Take a look at Missouri's Department of Agriculture pesticide drift complaints from the last six years. Notice how dicamba-related complaints have skyrocketed since 2016:

  • FY 2012 – 97
  • FY 2013 – 75 (one complaint was Dicamba-related)
  • FY 2014 – 75
  • FY 2015 – 90 (three complaints were Dicamba-related)
  • FY 2016 – 97 (27 complaints are allegedly Dicamba-related)
  • FY 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 27, 2017) – 325 (212 complaints are allegedly Dicamba-related)
  • Calendar year 2017 (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) – 375 (310 complaints are allegedly Dicamba-related) (Updated: Oct. 26, 2017)

As of Oct. 15, states have launched 2,708 investigations into dicamba damage nationwide, the University of Missouri found.

Monsanto developed its Xtend system to address "superweeds" that have grown resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in the company's former bread-and-butter, Roundup.

Monsanto, DuPont and BASF SE now sell federally approved dicamba formulations that the companies say are less drift-prone and volatile than older versions when used correctly. The companies have blamed farmers for improperly using the weedkiller.

But Arkansas farmer Reed Storey insists dicamba is causing damage even when directions are followed.

"I'm calling strictly to let y'all know that we have an issue with this product," Storey told state regulators last month.

Arkansas, which has logged the most dicamba-related cases at 985, is a step away from banning the chemical (again) next summer. Monsanto filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed ban.

Reuters noted that the rapid increase of crop damage could also spell future sales troubles for the manufacturers.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Energy
Seismic tests are a precursor to offshore drilling for oil and gas. BSEE

Judge Halts Seismic Testing Permits During Shutdown

Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.

The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Pxhere

DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible

Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.

Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Martin Luther King Jr. at steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

MLK Would Have Been an Environmental Leader, Too

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and actions continue to resonate on the 90th anniversary of his birth.

As the country honors the life and legacy of the iconic civil rights leader today, we are reminded that the social justice and the climate movements are deeply connected.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A great tit family and nest. Bak GiSeok / 500px / Getty Images

Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts

By Marlene Cimons

Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.

The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Brazil, Pantanal, water lilies. Nat Photos / DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus

Saving the World’s Largest Tropical Wetland

Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.

Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Demonstrators participate in a protest march over agricultural policy on Jan. 19 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall / Getty Images Europe

35,000 Protestors in Berlin Call for Agricultural Revolution

By Andrea Germanos

Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A Massachusetts road coated with snow and ice following the winter storm which prompted Trump to mock climate change. Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Trump Once Again Confuses Weather and Climate in Response to Deadly Winter Storm

President Donald Trump has once again contradicted the findings of the U.S. government when it comes to the threat posed by climate change. Days after a Department of Defense report outlined how climate-related events like wildfires and flooding put U.S. military installations at risk, Trump took to Twitter to mock the idea that the world could be getting warmer, Time reported.

Trump's tweet came in response to a massive winter storm that blanketed the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
The fire that erupted after a pipeline explosion in Mexico Friday. FRANCISCO VILLEDA / AFP / Getty Images

85 Dead in Mexican Pipeline Explosion

A dramatic pipeline explosion in central Mexico Friday has killed at least 85 people, Mexican Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Valera said Sunday night, The Associated Press reported.

The explosion occurred in a field in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan as people rushed to gather fuel from the pipeline, which had been ruptured by suspected thieves. Many were covered in oil before a fireball shot into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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