Major Seed Companies Call for Limits on Monsanto Weedkiller ‘Dicamba’

Major Seed Companies Call for Limits on Monsanto Weedkiller ‘Dicamba’
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The 2 largest independent seed sellers in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids and Stine Seed, are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban farmers from spraying dicamba herbicide during upcoming summers.

Spraying would be limited to the springtime, before crops are planted, preventing farmers from using the weedkiller on Monsanto-made soybeans genetically engineered to withstand dicamba.

In the summer of 2017, farmers planted mind-boggling amounts of dicamba-resistant soybeans. This resulted in dicamba drifting onto nearby farms where the genetically modified seeds aren’t grown, damaging an estimated 3.6 million acres of traditionally-grown soybeans – 4% of all U.S. plantings.

Farmers and regulators had hoped that the 2018 growing season would see significantly less dicamba damage, but that was not to be. As of July 15, the University of Missouri estimated that more than a million acres of non-resistant soybeans had been damaged by dicamba. Tree and flower damage has also been reported by homeowners.

The EPA is currently mulling crop damage complaints as well as the future of dicamba.

Stine Seed founder and CEO Harry Stine, said: [2]

“I’ve been doing this for 50 years and we’ve never had anything be as damaging as this dicamba situation. In this case, Monsanto made an error.”

The push from the 2 companies could hurt Monsanto, which was acquired for $63 billion by Bayer. The company has faced harsh criticism for marketing its dicamba-resistant Xtend seeds before winning EPA approval for the herbicide.

The Xtend system was designed to address superweeds that have grown resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.

In a June 27, 2018 letter, Beck’s urged the EPA to modify the current dicamba label on Xtend crops to only allow spraying of fields before crops are planted and bar in-season applications.

Arkansas imposed an unprecedented ban on dicamba in June 2017. Farmers were barred from spraying the herbicide on any crops except for pasture land for 120 days. The state of Missouri – where dicamba damaged nearly 45,000 acres of crops, including soybeans, commercial tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, pumpkins, and residential trees and gardens – soon followed suit.

In 2016, Missouri’s largest peach grower, Bader Farms, sued Monsanto, alleging the company was responsible for illegal dicamba use. In the lawsuit, Bader claimed that about 7,000 of its peach trees were damaged by dicamba drift, resulting in a loss of $1.5 million.

Sources:

[1] Reuters

[2] EcoWatch