The early release of a variety of soybeans resistant to the herbicide dicamba has led to criminal spraying and the death of normal soybean crops:
Dicamba has been around for decades, and it is notorious for a couple of things: It vaporizes quickly and blows with the wind. And it's especially toxic to soybeans, even at ridiculously low concentrations. Damage from drifting pesticides isn't unfamiliar to farmers. But the reason for this year's plague of dicamba damage is unprecedented. "I've never seen anything like this before," says Bob Scott, a weed specialist from the University of Arkansas. "This is a unique situation that Monsanto created."
The story starts with Monsanto because the St. Louis-based biotech giant launched, this year, an updated version of its herbicide-tolerant soybean seeds. This new version, which Monsanto calls "Xtend," isn't just engineered to tolerate sprays of glyphosate, aka Roundup. It's also immune to dicamba.
Monsanto created dicamba-resistant soybeans (and cotton) in an effort to stay a step ahead of the weeds. The strategy of planting Roundup-resistant crops and spraying Roundup to kill weeds isn't working so well anymore, because weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate. Adding genes for dicamba resistance, so the thinking went, would give farmers the option of spraying dicamba as well, which would clear out the weeds that survive glyphosate. There was just one hitch in the plan. A very big hitch, as it turned out. The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet approved the new dicamba weedkiller that Monsanto created for farmers to spray on its new dicamba-resistant crops. That new formulation of dicamba, according to Monsanto, has been formulated so that it won't vaporize as easily, and won't be as likely to harm neighboring crops. If the EPA approves the new weedkiller, it may impose restrictions on how and when the chemical may be used.
But, Monsanto went ahead and started selling its dicamba-resistant soybeans before this herbicide was approved. It gave farmers a new weed-killing tool that they couldn't legally use.
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01 2016, @09:02PM
Monscamco will get away scot-free as they've already bought the republicans, the farmers that used it will be fined by the EPA, and the farmers whose fields were covered from wind blown Monscamco products will get a bill and/or sued out of business by Monscamco.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @01:03AM
You didn't read TFA did you?
It doesn't say that the dicamba came from Monsanto. Even if the dicamba did come from Monsanto, it isn't like we hold gun manufactures responsible when someone shoots someone.
(Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Tuesday August 02 2016, @01:34AM
You didn't read TFA did you?
It doesn't say that the dicamba came from Monsanto.
The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet approved the new dicamba weedkiller that Monsanto created for farmers to spray on its new dicamba-resistant crops
ie either monsanto gave or sold the formulation to the farmers, or the farmers stole it form monsanto.
Even if the dicamba did come from Monsanto, it isn't like we hold gun manufactures responsible when someone shoots someone.
Maybe it's about time we did? What happens to a gun manufacturer which makes and sells illegal guns to the public (eg if Kalashnikov Concern [wikipedia.org] opened a flea market stall and sold AK74s)?
It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
(Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @01:57AM
Dicamba has been around for decades
[...] That new formulation of dicamba, according to Monsanto, has been formulated so that it won't vaporize as easily, and won't be as likely to harm neighboring crops.
The wiki link says that dicamba has been used since the 1940s, so it is not new and Monsanto's formulation is supposed to prevent this type of problem.
Selling illegal things is already illegal. People are responsible for their own actions.
(Score: 4, Insightful) by dry on Tuesday August 02 2016, @03:37AM
My understanding was that Monsanto sold dicamba resistant soybeans without supplying the special dicamba that works best (stays put) to go along with it. Farmers went nuts spraying regular dicamba which contaminated their neighbours fields. Monsanto was in the wrong in selling this variety of soybean without the corresponding special dicamba and the farmers were in the wrong for excessively using dicamba.
Legally, based on what I was taught when I had a pesticide applicators ticket, the farmers broke the law by overusing dicamba. Morally, Monsanto is in the wrong for selling the resistant strain as obviously they should have realized that farmers were going to use dicamba on the resistant plants.
Note, I wouldn't be surprised if the farmers have legal immunity from overspraying
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @04:09AM
Monsanto told farmers that they were not allowed to use dicamba on the crops and that they still sold them because they are higher-yielding than other soybeans.
I don't know if there was winking involved when they informed the farmers.
(Score: 2) by dry on Wednesday August 03 2016, @02:51AM
Well, they could have not mentioned the dicamba resistance and the farmers would never have sprayed dicamba on their crops.