The Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, is drying up, revealing a bed packed with toxic chemicals, the residue of a century of runoff from Imperial Valley farms. Public-health experts worry that those chemicals pose a grave risk to the health of people who live nearby, mostly farmworkers, the elderly and families too poor to relocate, as Lindsay Fendt reports in FERN's latest story, published with The Weather Channel. (No paywall)
The 2016 acquisition by Bayer of seed and chemical giant Monsanto has turned out to be a rotten deal. Shares in the German company have fallen 30 percent since the $63 billion deal closed, and are now at just 50 percent of their value in 2015, when the company was Germany’s most valuable.
The USDA has never approved cultivation of genetically engineered wheat, yet for the fourth time since April 2013 a wheat strain resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate was found growing wild in the northwestern United States. The discovery could disrupt wheat exports and it raises questions about USDA's ability to police agricultural biotechnology.
Fifty years after the war in Vietnam ended, the nation is still dealing with the toxic legacy of Agent Orange, one of the herbicides sprayed throughout the countryside that directly exposed generations of Vietnamese to dioxin, "the most toxic substance ever created by humans," writes George Black in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with Yale Environment 360. No paywall
Dicamba-tolerant corn seeds aren’t available yet. But if the seeds reach the market, and tens of millions more acres are sprayed with dicamba, there’s good reason to expect a repeat of the soybean disaster, in which the highly volatile weedkiller drifted off-target and damaged 5 million acres of conventional soybeans and an untold number of other crops.(No paywall)
The controversial weedkiller dicamba, which has wreaked havoc in soybean country over the last two years, is dividing communities and pitting neighbor against neighbor as the 2019 growing season gets underway. FERN's latest story, a radio piece produced with Reveal and the podcast Us & Them, takes listeners inside these divided communities in Arkansas.(No paywall)
In a trial that could serve as a bellwether for other cases, a federal court jury decided unanimously that a Monsanto herbicide was a substantial factor in causing cancer in Edwin Hardeman, of Santa Rosa, Calif, reported the Guardian. In the next phase of the trial, the jury will weigh liability and whether to award damages against Monsanto.
Arkansas regulators voted on Wednesday to relax restrictions on the controversial weedkiller dicamba, despite testimony from top scientists and scores of concerned citizens who urged them to reject the move in a public hearing. (No paywall)
A federal appeals court on the West Coast dismissed as moot a lawsuit by environmentalists to overturn the EPA's 2016 approval of the weedkiller dicamba. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the environmental groups could try again with a challenge to EPA's reapproval of the herbicide last November. (No paywall)