Quantcast
Food

17 States Investigate Dicamba Damage Complaints Spanning 2.5 Million Acres

Complaints of crop damage from the powerful and volatile weedkiller dicamba have increased rapidly around the country.

According to weed scientist and University of Missouri associate professor Kevin Bradley, 17 state governments are investigating more than 1,400 official complaints of dicamba-related injuries this year covering 2.5 million acres.


"This is a substantial problem that needs to be addressed," Bradley wrote.

Reports suggest that farmers applied the herbicide to Monsanto Co.'s new dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton crops to beat back ever-resistant weeds, but the drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields, crops and native plants. Fruits and vegetables, as well as other crops that are not genetically engineered to withstand dicamba, are often left cupped and distorted when exposed to the chemical.

The current rash of complaints echoes the similar devastation last summer, when 10 states reported hundreds of thousands of crop acres adversely impacted by the apparent misuse of the herbicide.

Although dicamba has been around for decades, Monsanto, DuPont Co. and BASF SE sells new formulations of the herbicide that's said to be less drift-prone and volatile than older versions when used correctly.

Monsanto execs defended its product, blaming growers for using older versions of dicamba or not following directions on the new product label. As reported by Bloomberg:

The company attributes the drifting problem to farmers using illegal, off-label products that are more volatile—and thus more prone to drift—than the latest versions of dicamba. They may also be cleaning or using their spraying equipment incorrectly, or applying dicamba when it's windy, said Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer.

But Bradley, University of Missouri's weed scientist, casted off what he considers as industry excuses:

First, does 1,411 official dicamba-related injury investigations and/or approximately 2.5 million acres of dicamba-injured soybean constitute a problem for U.S. agriculture? I guess it depends on your perspective but my answer is an emphatic yes. If you think so as well, let others know how you feel and let's stop the standard denial routine that I have heard so often this season. Instead, lets put our time and effort into figuring out where we go from here as an industry and what's going to be different about next season.

Second, I said previously that the purpose of this article is NOT to debate about the reasons for off target movement. And it isn't. And I'm not. But the reasons for off-target movement of dicamba are the number one thing we are going to have to discuss if you agree that there is a problem. So my last question is this; can you look at the scale and the magnitude of the problem on these maps and really believe that all of this can collectively be explained by some combination of physical drift, sprayer error, failure to follow guidelines, temperature inversions, generic dicamba usage, contaminated glufosinate products, and improper sprayer clean out, but that volatility is not also a factor?

I know what my perspective is, what's yours?

In recent months, states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri—Monsanto's home state—have imposed temporary bans or restrictions on the use of dicamba to curb further damage. Farmers in several states have filed lawsuits against BASF, DuPont and Monsanto over damages.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now reviewing its directions on how to use the new formulations following the crop damage reports.

"We are reviewing the current use restrictions on the labels for these dicamba formulations in light of the incidents that have been reported this year," agency spokeswoman Amy Graham told Reuters.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals

Beloved Bear That Recovered From Massive Wildfire Burns Found Shot Dead

Cinder, an orphaned bear cub that was severely burned but had remarkably survived after one of the worst recorded wildfires in Washington state history was found dead, wildlife officials recently confirmed to news outlets.

She was likely shot and killed in October 2017 by a hunter, according to the Methow Valley News and a Facebook post by the Idaho Black Bear Rehab, where the famous black bear was treated.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyage into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch document plastics and other marine debris. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a soupy mix of plastics and microplastics, now twice the size of Texas, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

Teen Vogue Joined Greenpeace at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — Here’s What They Saw

By Perry Wheeler

Throughout this year, people all over the globe united to take on plastic pollution. Greenpeace supporters have asked their local supermarkets to phase out throwaway plastics, helped us reach 3 million signatures to companies like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever demanding they invest in real solutions and participated in beach cleanups and brand audits to name the worst corporate plastic polluters.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Advocates Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth About Climate Change

By Jeremy Deaton

It has been a tough few months for climate change. In October, an international body of climate scientists declared humans have a little more than a decade to make the drastic changes needed to keep rising temperatures reasonably in check. In November, federal scientists released an equally grim assessment detailing the unprecedented floods, droughts and wildfires expected to hit the U.S. Then, this month, with the world ablaze, diplomats gathered in Poland to bicker over how much water each country should pour on their respective fires and, in some cases, whether scientists were exaggerating the size of the flames.

Keep reading... Show less
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Dirty Scheme to Make Americans Buy More Gasoline

By Rhea Suh

It's not often that an industry chieftain brags to investors about picking the pockets of American families with help from the White House.

That's what happened, though, after Big Oil schemed with the Trump administration last summer to ensure higher gasoline consumption—to the tune of $16 billion a year—and more climate-disrupting carbon pollution from our cars, vans and pickup trucks.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
The planned Liberty Project is an artificial gravel island to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Hilcorp / BOEM

Trump Administration Sued Over Controversial Arctic Drilling Project

Conservation groups are suing the Trump administration to halt construction of a controversial oil production facility in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light from the Interior Department in October to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the ecologically sensitive area, threaten Arctic communities and put local wildlife including polar bears at risk.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
AAron Ontiveroz / Denver Post / Getty Images

5 Everyday Products Contaminated With Plastic

However, the infiltration of plastics into our daily lives goes much deeper, making it hard to avoid this polluting material which will remain in our ecosystems for centuries to come.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Fracking waste from the Vaca Muerta shale basin in Argentina being dumped into an open air pit. Greenpeace

Indigenous Group Sues Exxon, Energy Majors Over Fracking Waste Contamination in Patagonia

A major indigenous group in the Argentine Patagonia is suing some of world's biggest oil and gas companies over illegal fracking waste dumps that put the "sensitive Patagonian environment," local wildlife and communities at risk, according to Greenpeace.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén filed a lawsuit against Exxon, French company Total and the Argentina-based Pan American Energy (which is partially owned by BP), AFP reported. Provincial authorities and a local fracking waste treatment company called Treater Neuquén S.A. were also named in the suit.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
A Yelp event at Rip's Malt Shop in Brooklyn, New York, which serves vegan comfort food, including plant-based proteins produced by Beyond Meat and Field Roast. Yelp Inc. / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Should Plant-Based Proteins be Called 'Meat'?

By Melissa Kravitz

Fried chicken, bacon cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza aren't uncommon to see on vegan menus—or even the meat-free freezer section of your local supermarket—but should we be calling these mock meat dishes the same names? A new Missouri law doesn't think so. The state's law, which forbids "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry," has led to a contentious ethical, legal and linguistic debate. Four organizations—Tofurky, the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Animal Legal Defense Fund—are now suing the state on the basis that not only is the law against the U.S. Constitution, but it favors meat producers for unfair market competition.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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