Monsanto responds to dicamba bans after drift issues

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Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

A Monsanto facility in Jerseyville, Ill., on May 19, 2015.

Monsanto has issued a statement calling the decision to ban the use of one of its herbicides that has been connected to crop damage “premature.”

Arkansas and Missouri both banned the use of dicamba in the past week, with state officials saying they received hundreds of drift complaints from farmers whose crops have been damaged by neighbors using the pesticide.

Dicamba is an herbicide that has been touted as an alternative to glyphosate, as it can kill “super weeds” that have become resistant to Roundup – the most extensively used herbicide. Missouri-based Monsanto touted its new dicamba-resistant seeds as the largest biotechnology launch in company history after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved genetically modified soybean and cotton seeds in January 2015.

But Monsanto sold the seeds before the Environmental Protection Agency approved use of its version of the herbicide, which was designed to reduce drift. However, farmers illegally used other versions of the herbicide, which killed neighboring crops in 2016.

This year, though, drift issues have continued despite a  November 2016 decision by the EPA to approve Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide.

The bungled rollout of the pesticide has led to hundreds of complaints from farmers. Already, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto by farmers in 10 states, alleging that the company is responsible for crop damage.

Mosanto’s full response:

Farmers are the lifeblood of our company. Not only is our work at Monsanto focused on helping farmers be successful, but many of our employees also grew up on farms and have deep roots in farming communities. Like many others in the agriculture community, we are concerned about the reports of potential crop injury in Arkansas.

We sympathize with any farmers experiencing crop injury, but the decision to ban dicamba in Arkansas was premature since the causes of any crop injury have not been fully investigated. While we do not sell dicamba products in Arkansas, we are concerned this abrupt decision in the middle of a growing season will negatively impact many farmers in Arkansas.

We strongly encourage farmers using dicamba in other states to make their voice heard. Share how important this tool is to your farm and how you are using it responsibly. We have heard those stories. To ensure your continued access to dicamba products, make sure your elected officials and relevant agencies hear those stories, too.

In the many states we do sell dicamba, we will continue our efforts to help farmers use dicamba successfully. We encourage customers with questions or concerns to call 1-844-RRXTEND.

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