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posted by martyb on Monday August 01 2016, @08:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the unintended-consequences dept.

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.

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @01:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 02 2016, @01:17AM (#382920)

    I'm tired of living in a world ran by the elite for their own benefit while the rest of us have to eat and breath this shit.

    Well, unless they actually get Elysium built, there going to be living and eating in this shit too. Point in fact, I live 20 miles away from a multi-billionaire from Intel in the same little sleepy Northern California town. We have a homeless population that now numbers in the thousands. There are 40-50 at any one moment surrounding the same grocery stores that the billionaire and I go to. Those walking paths and beautiful hiking paths in the parks we used to go to are now overrun with homeless people. This is extreme fire risk weather, and homeless people are freezing that unless they start fires, so...... we get to put out fires now in the creeks and outdoor places that are camping grounds. Parking spaces are vigorously defended now, as there are fleets of people living in their cars looking for a place to just sleep for an hour or two.

    We now live, eat, breathe, and sleep with homeless tucked into dark places around us. There's gentrification, and there is hellification. The billionaire benefits from the former, but suffers just as much as the rest of us in the latter.

    Unless they leave for space, there going to die by fire down here with the rest of us. We'll take em' with us, and they can find out if the millions they've spent on those "zombie-proof" bunkers were worth it.

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