Earlier this week, The Ring of Fire brought you a story about the most recent court ruling against Monsanto in its ongoing legal battle against the State of California regarding glyphosate, the active ingredient in its controversial herbicide, Roundup.
Since the end of March, the agribusiness juggernaut has been fighting to keep glyphosate off the list of “chemicals known to cause cancer” by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). This week, the OEHHA announced that beginning July 7th, in accordance with California Proposition 65, glyphosate will be added to the list and the information will displayed on all packages of Roundup.
Although Monsanto has the federal EPA on its side thanks to its cozy relationship with agency head Scott Pruitt, and is planning to file an appeal, it appears that the tide is turning against the company – and its not just about glyphosate anymore.
Monsanto is running into serious opposition to its other broad-spectrum herbicide, dicamba. This “next-generation” product was developed by Monsanto for use with its “Roundup Ready 2 Xtend” soybeans. Unfortunately, that substance is making its way into other fields, crossing state lines and causing serious damage to other crops.
Last week, dicamba was banned by the Arkansas State Plant Board. That decision is now going to the governor for further consideration. Naturally, Monsanto is doing its best to convince farmers in the Razorback State that the decision is yet another example of “Big Gummint” overreach, encouraging them to contact their state representatives in Little Rock. Those exhortations may be falling on deaf ears as awareness spreads about Monsanto chemicals and their health effects.
A similar ban is under consideration in neighboring Missouri, where there has been concern over “drift damage” due to dicamba sprays. Scientist Kevin Bradley of the University of Missouri told the Delta Farm Press that he’s gotten several calls from growers about the problem.
“There’s a lot of suspected dicamba drift in the state,” he says. “There’s a lot of injury happening and a lot of farmers…are frustrated. Most of it is soybeans, but the damage complaints I’ve heard is also on diverse crops with some vegetables, peas, melons and other things.”
At the moment, there is growing opposition among Missourians to dicamba, and the state’s Department of Agriculture is expected to take up the issue next week, according to Bradley.
Meanwhile, similar reports of dicamba-related drift are coming in from western Tennessee counties, where the Department of Agriculture has received complaints from 27 producers. Larry Steckel, a University of Tennessee scientist, expressed serious concerns: “We had 47 official complaints in 2016, and I think we’re going to pass that easily at the rate we’re going. It’s simply not looking good right now.”
An assistant commissioner for the TDA, Corinne Gould, adds that investigations into dicamba crop damage are being given “high priority.” She says the TDA is
“reaching out to private applicators and distributors to remind them of laws and requirements, as well as the companies that manufacture the products.” Gould adds, “We are also prepared to devote additional resources if necessary.”