A Killing Season: Dicamba herbicide upends the agriculture industry, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a struggle for survival
Published: January 29, 2019
Category: Pesticide Hazards, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
When Arkansas farmer Mike Wallace was murdered in late 2016 in a dispute over herbicide drift damage, it was before thousands of complaints of dicamba damage were reported to state agencies.
During the 2017 growing season, 3.6 million acres of soybeans were supposedly harmed—some project ten times that number. Other casualties of sprayed dicamba drifting include cypress and oak trees, gardens, and bee populations.
But despite farmers’ emotional and financial losses, Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant seeds filled 50 million acres in 2018, twice the amount of 2017. The company has produced a less volatile dicamba formula but lessening of damage is not yet proven.
The New Republic writes: “For today’s farmer, the modern agriculture business can feel like an arms race, in which the only choice is to embrace the latest genetically engineered seeds and the chemicals that go with them.” Competitive trade wars, tariffs, and sinking commodity prices threaten viability also. Dicamba-resistant seeds appeared as an alternative to Roundup Ready ones, since Roundup had engendered “superweeds”—but they were introduced before the dicamba herbicide was approved, making illegal spraying inevitable. Now, many farmers are forced to buy dicamba-resistant seeds just to avoid drift damage.
Dicamba-resistant soybeans are still popular, tensions are high, lawsuits are mounting. “I wish I could tell you the future looks bright, ten years, 15 years from now,” said agronomist Jason Norsworthy, “but it doesn’t.”
Source: The New Republic
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