A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in St. Louis says Monsanto and BASF genetically engineered dicamba-resistant crops knowing the weedkiller was likely to harm neighboring crops, and that "everything they did and failed to do increased the risk," reports Harvest Public Media.
The Department of Justice on Tuesday approved Bayer’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto, completing a two-year approval process for the mega-merger that spanned several countries. The combined company will be the largest agrochemical and seed company in the world with about $48 billion in annual sales.
German ag and healthcare giant Bayer said it is “in exclusive talks with BASF on the sale of its entire vegetable seeds business” as a way of gaining European approval for its takeover of Monsanto.
After consulting growers, researchers and chemical companies, the Missouri Agriculture Department said it will ban use of BASF's dicamba weedkiller on cotton and soybeans after June 1 in 10 southeastern counties and in the rest of the state after July 15 in order to prevent damage to neighboring crops. The state agency said it expects to issue similar limits for Monsanto and DuPont versions of the herbicide.
Following an explosion of complaints about crop damage by the weedkiller dicamba, the EPA strengthened its rules for spraying the herbicide onto genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The new guidelines require special training of applicators before they can spray dicamba, limit the time of day when it can be used and bar spraying when winds exceed 10 miles an hour, a reduction from the 15 mph limit this year.
In an effort to quell complaints about the weedkiller dicamba, Monsanto invited dozens of weed scientists to a summit in St. Louis, “but many have declined, threatening the company’s efforts to convince regulators the product is safe to use,” said Reuters. The EPA is considering additional rules governing how and when the herbicide can be sprayed onto strains of cotton and soybeans genetically modified to tolerate the chemical.
In the wake of this summer’s widespread damage to soybeans and other crops caused by the unintended drift from applications of the weedkiller dicamba, Reuters reports that EPA regulators told state officials that they are considering a ban on use of the herbicide after a cutoff date early next year. The idea would be to limit spraying to early spring, before soybeans emerge from the ground.
University of Arkansas weed scientist Jason Norsworthy described the weedkiller dicamba as "a product that is broken," and told a state task force that he could not recommend its use in the state in 2018, said the Arkansas Democrat newspaper. Arkansas leads the nation in reports of damage to crops when dicamba is sprayed on nearby fields.
A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis accuses sales representatives of Monsanto, the world's largest seed and ag-chemical company, "of secretly giving farmers assurances that using unauthorized or 'off-label' spray varieties would be all right," reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "That’s one of many allegations in the suit to place blame from soaring complaints of dicamba damage on companies that produce the weedkiller and accompanying seed varieties."