Closing arguments in dicamba trial set for Friday

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Closing arguments are set for 9 a.m. Friday in the federal trial of a lawsuit alleging Monsanto and BASF intentionally caused widespread damage to farms in order to bolster sales of a new pesticide and seed system. Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, alleges that the companies, through the release of the new products built around the pesticide dicamba, are responsible for irreparable damage to its 1,000 acres of peach trees. Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, and BASF deny the allegations that dicamba is volatile when used correctly. The companies blame the issues at Bader Farms on other issues, including soil fungus and weather events. 

The cropping system, designed to help farmers kill weeds that are increasingly resistant to the pesticide glyphosate, was hailed as the next generation of farming.

BASF: Monsanto is a ‘fierce’ competitor, not a co-conspirator

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - A retired BASF executive told a federal jury on Tuesday that the company never intended to enter into a “joint venture” with Monsanto over the dicamba-tolerant cropping system that was released beginning in 2015. 

“We didn’t want to be exposed to Monsanto’s losses,” said Alyson Emanuel, who in her then-role as vice president of global strategic marketing for herbicides helped negotiate the contracts between BASF and Monsanto that governed the relationship. In an effort to combat growing weed resistance, Monsanto genetically engineered soybean and cotton seeds that could withstand being sprayed by dicamba, a volatile herbicide that has been used since the 1960s. The two companies also developed new versions of the pesticide designed to be less volatile. BASF and Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, are being sued by Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, over the dicamba-tolerant cropping system, which has allegedly damaged millions of acres of crops since its release.

Dicamba on trial: Peach farm one witness away from resting its case against Bayer, BASF

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - In July 2016, Bill Bader, frustrated by the second straight year of alleged dicamba damage to his peach trees, got out his invoice book and hand wrote bills to his neighbors he suspected of illegally spraying the herbicide: $720,000 to one, $660,000 to another and $1.2 million to a third, according to testimony in federal court this week. 

Bader wrote out the biggest bill - $3.3 million for damages to peaches and the environment - to Monsanto, the St. Louis-based agribusiness company he blamed for the damage from the volatile weed killer. “I made a mistake, and I was blowing off steam,” Bader testified on Wednesday in the second week of a trial of a lawsuit he filed against German agribusiness giants Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018, and BASF. “I was hoping to get their attention.”

Bader Farms, the largest peach producer in Missouri, is seeking $20.9 damages.

Dicamba on trial: Monsanto officials testified dicamba may drift, but not enough to harm crops

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo - If farmers follow the label, small amounts of dicamba may move off of the crops where they are applied, but there is “no way” that movement could hurt neighboring crops, according to video testimony from Monsanto officials in federal court on Friday. The testimony wrapped up the first week of a trial in a civil lawsuit filed by Bader Farms, the largest peach farm in Missouri, against BASF and Bayer, which bought Monsanto in 2018. Bader Farms alleges that drift from the herbicide dicamba led to its 1,000-acre peach farm no longer being sustainable. Bader also alleges the companies released their dicamba-related products knowing they would harm other crops. 

BASF and Bayer deny the allegations, blaming the crop damage on farmers making illegal applications, weather events, disease and other issues. The companies are defending themselves in court, and the trial is expected to last at least two weeks.