The world's largest seed and ag-chemical company, Monsanto, says it is considering its options after a court dismissed its lawsuit challenging the Arkansas ban of its weedkiller dicamba on row crops during the growing season, said the Associated Press. "Arkansas has the toughest restriction in place on dicamba, though several states have imposed other restrictions or requirements."
Hundreds of schools in the Midwest "nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds," but states "do not require any kind of buffer zones and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed," says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Nine states in other parts of the country, with California the most prominent, have laws that mandate buffer zones.
Most of the pesticide retailers who took part in an Illinois trade association poll reported damage from the weedkiller dicamba even when the weedkiller was sprayed in good conditions, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Separately, the University of Missouri said the herbicide was blamed for damage to 3.6 million acres of soybeans as of Oct. 15, a 16 percent increase from its Aug 10 tally.
A Monsanto executive "acknowledged the company misjudged the timeline" for EPA approval of its lower-volatility formulation of the weedkiller dicamba in 2016, reports Reuters. The result was that some farmers, worried about invasive weeds, planted Monsanto's new dicamba-tolerant soybean seeds and used older versions of dicamba, blamed for damage to neighboring fields.
State officials in Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee have received hundreds of complaints blaming the weedkiller dicamba for damage to oak trees this summer, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Usage of dicamba — and complaints of crop damage — has increased with the release of soybean and cotton varieties genetically modified to tolerate doses of the chemical.
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.
After shutting down row-crop use of dicamba for the rest of this growing season, Arkansas has appointed a 21-member task force to look for a long-term solution to the nearly 900 complaints about the herbicide this year. "The task force will attempt to reach consensus on a set of recommendations for the use of dicamba products n Arkansas as quickly as possible in order to provide certainty for the 2018 growing season," said the state Agriculture Department.
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."
Due to a procedural error on Tuesday, the Arkansas state plant board will re-vote on Friday on whether to temporarily ban use of the weedkiller dicamba, suspected of drifting out of cotton and soybean fields to damage neighboring crops, reported DTN. Some 167 complaints alleging misuse of the herbicide, mostly along the eastern edge of Arkansas, were filed with the state board as of midday Wednesday.