As it promised last month, Bayer, the world's largest seed and agricultural chemicals company, asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the $25-million award to Edwin Hardeman, a California man who blamed Roundup herbicide for giving him cancer. The appeal is a key element in Bayer's plan to resolve billions of dollars of claims against Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world.
The victors in a lawsuit against the weedkiller dicamba asked the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn an EPA decision that would let farmers use the herbicide until July 31. "Emergency relief is required to prevent off-field drift harms that will occur on millions of acres should spraying continue," said the coalition of farm and environmental groups in an emergency petition.
Farmers can no longer spray the controversial pesticide dicamba over the top of genetically modified soybeans and cotton, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. Dicamba is a weedkiller whose use has skyrocketed in recent years after agribusiness giant Monsanto introduced genetically engineered soybean and cotton seeds that resist the herbicide. The ruling means that farmers will have to immediately cease using dicamba on an estimated 60 million acres of crops across the Midwest and South. (No paywall)
A federal jury determined that German agribusiness giants Bayer and BASF will have to pay $250 million in punitive damages to Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, for damage caused by their dicamba-related products. The verdict comes at the end of a three-week trial of a case where Bader Farms alleges it is going out of business because of damage incurred by the companies' dicamba herbicides moving off of neighboring fields and harming their 1,000 acres of peach orchards.
Knowing federal regulators were paying attention to the new weedkiller's potential to contaminate other fields, Monsanto decided to “pull back” on testing to allow dicamba, according to testimony in the federal trial over the weedkiller. Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in the state, alleges that dicamba damaged their orchard.
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 GMO wheat discovered growing wild in a Washington State field this spring actually sprouted from two different strains developed by Monsanto, the USDA announced over the weekend. Genetically engineered wheat is not approved for cultivation anywhere in the world, yet "volunteer" herbicide-resistant plants have been confirmed four times in the U.S. Northwest more than a decade after field trials ended.
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.
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)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (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)
The Arkansas State Plant Board voted to roll back restrictions on the drift-prone herbicide dicamba late last week, over the objections of a coalition of sustainable agriculture and conservation groups. The board denied, without a hearing, an organic farmer’s petition to uphold the restrictions.
A new investigation by FERN and Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Journalism, shows that the EPA "ignored scientists’ warnings and extensive research that showed dicamba would evaporate into the air and ruin crops miles away, according to documents obtained through public records requests and lawsuits. Instead, the EPA’s approval was based on studies by the companies that manufacture dicamba, which independent scientists say were seriously flawed." (No paywall)
Environmental groups told a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday that the EPA had failed to properly assess the risks posed by the weedkiller dicamba to nearby crops and should be ordered to revoke its approval of Monsanto’s version of the herbicide, reported Reuters.
Monsanto proudly says its low-volatility formulations of dicamba, coupled with cotton and soybean varieties genetically modified to tolerate doses of the herbicide, is an effective tool against invasive weeds. But weed scientists report that damage to neighboring fields and susceptible nearby crops is a recurring problem this year. "I have never seen a herbicide that has so easily and frequently slipped the leash," wrote Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel in Delta Farm Press.