2x the trouble w/ herbicide dicamba: kills wrong stuff, is banned for intended use

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Well it's one thing when a reformulated version of the herbicide dicamba, meant for use on genetically engineered cotton and soybeans that can tolerate it, turns out to have much higher volatility (tendency to drift) than was expected. And so... kills your peaches or veggie garden or whatever it drifts onto that you were growing somewhere on your farm, or that your neighbor was trying to grow.

    But then when your state realizes what's going on, and bans the new dicamba, and you can't use it on the soybeans and corn that it was meant to protect.... you are twice shafted in the same season by the companies that explicitly forbade your state's universities to do volatility testing of the new formulation, on the grounds that... well.. let's see... well it was just a stipulation in the contract for acquiring efficacy samples, that's all. And anyway the chemical companies thought, for some reason, that the new formulation would be less volatile than the old one. Maybe. Or so they are saying. Definitely.

    Get ready to pay volatile prices for at least some soybeans and cotton (if not other veggies and fruit) if the workarounds being put into place don't enable dispensing with the bans, since the crops that need them are running out of time to be weeded by any other means and it's late in the day for the dicamba-damaged crops to be replanted if that's even possible.

    Drifting Crop Chemical Deals ‘Double Whammy’ to U.S. Farmers

    The three companies that sell the chemical in the United States for use on growing crops of soybeans and cotton, Monsanto Co, BASF and DuPont, say their products have not always been used according to label instructions.

    Some farmers used older dicamba products that were more drift-prone, deployed spraying equipment contaminated with other herbicides, or applied dicamba in the wrong conditions, Monsanto's chief technology officer Robb Fraley said.

    The situation is part of an evolving battle between farmers and pests that threaten their crops. For two decades, growers have sown crops genetically modified to resist chemicals such as glyphosate, popularly known as Roundup, allowing them to selectively kill all the weeds in a field.

    But the weeds have rallied, developing resistance to many popular chemicals, prompting farmers to try alternatives such as dicamba.

    It is unclear what is causing dicamba to drift into other crops, though agronomists say it could be caused by high winds or changes in temperature.

    Complaints have been rampant. So far, Arkansas has received 760 reports from farmers of dicamba drift damage - a record for one product - spanning 209,000 acres, according to the state plant board.

    The state has taken a tough stance against the chemical, banning its use for 120 days starting July 11. Missouri imposed a one-week ban starting July 8. Tennessee placed tight restrictions on when dicamba can be sprayed.

    The Arkansas State Plant Board relies on the "honor system" to enforce its ban, said director Terry Walker. Violations are punishable by fines up to $25,000, he said.

    The new formula was made available for testing but with a prohibition against volatility testing. imo the EPA and states should have blown the whistle on that immediately but apparently didn't challenge the language of the standard contract, which has not (yet?) been made public.

    The researchers interviewed by Reuters - Jason Norsworthy at the University of Arkansas, Kevin Bradley at the University of Missouri and Aaron Hager at the University of Illinois - said Monsanto provided samples of XtendiMax before it was approved by the EPA. However, the samples came with contracts that explicitly forbade volatility testing.

    "This is the first time I’m aware of any herbicide ever brought to market for which there were strict guidelines on what you could and could not do," Norsworthy said.

    The researchers declined to provide Reuters a copy of the Monsanto contracts, saying they were not authorized to do so.

    Monsanto's Vice President of Global Strategy, Scott Partridge, said the company prevented the testing because it was unnecessary. He said the company believed the product was less volatile than a previous dicamba formula that researchers found could be used safely.

    "To get meaningful data takes a long, long time," he said. "This product needed to get into the hands of growers."

    Right, so it got into the hands of growers ever so promptly and visited a plague wherever it drifted. And because of that its use is suspended and the people who need it can't use it, so their soybeans and cotton crops are fair game for every weed that ever saw a weak cousin.

    Sometimes it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. We'll undoubtedly keep doing it anyway. Maybe next time the EPA will be quicker to challenge testing prohibitions in contracts offered by the chemical companies. Oh, wait. If Obama's EPA didn't bother, then sure God the pallid EPA of Scott Pruitt is not going there.

  2. rjohnstone macrumors 68040


    Dec 28, 2007
    PHX, AZ.
    Mother Nature doesn't care if we live or die...in fact Mother Nature tries to kill us any chance she gets. ;)

    But on topic, testing for the effects of cross contamination and drift should be mandatory for all herbicides.
    Everyone knew weeds would eventually develop a resistance to Round Up. Especially on fields that are repeatedly treated by it.
    Plant evolution is amazingly fast.

Share This Page