Monsanto In Court Again As Powerful New Herbicide Accidently Kills 3.6 Million Acres Of Crops

Monsanto thought they had developed an amazing scheme to corner the Midwest farming market when they developed new genetically engineered seeds that were resistant to their new herbicide called dicamba.  The resistance of Monsanto's new magical seed crops to dicamba meant that the herbicide could be sprayed liberally by farmers to eradicate weeds and boost yields.

Alas, as we pointed out last week (see: Meet Monsanto's Other Herbicide Problem...), a small problem emerged when spray drifts from those liberal herbicide applications began to wipe out the crops of neighboring farmers who didn't plant Monsanto's dicamba-resistant seeds.

Now, as the Wall Street Journal points out today, after allegedly wiping out millions of acres of farm ground across the Midwest, Monsanto once again finds itself in a familiar spot: the courtroom. 

Monsanto’s new version of the herbicide called dicamba is part of a more than $1 billion investment that pairs it with new genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to the spray. But some farmers say their nonresistant crops suffered after neighbors’ dicamba drifted onto their land.


The agricultural giant in October sued the Arkansas State Plant Board following the board’s decision to bar Monsanto’s new herbicide and propose tougher restrictions on similar weed killers ahead of the 2018 growing season. Monsanto claims its herbicide is being held to an unfair standard.


Arkansas has been a flashpoint in the dispute: About 900,000 acres of crops were reported damaged there, more than in any other state.


About 300 farmers, crop scientists and other attendees gathered in Little Rock on Wednesday for a hearing on Arkansas’s proposed stiffer dicamba controls, which Monsanto and some farmers are fighting. The proposed restrictions are subject to the approval of a subcommittee of state legislators.

As we pointed out previously, the EPA has reported that farmers in 25 states submitted more than 2,700 claims to state agricultural agencies that neighbors’ dicamba spraying shriveled 3.6 million acres of soybeans. The herbicide is also blamed for damaging other crops, such as cantaloupe and pumpkins.

The massive crop damage prompted Arkansas’s Plant Board to propose the idea of prohibiting dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October to safeguard growing plants. The state has also refused to approve Monsanto’s dicamba product for use in Arkansas, saying it needs further analysis by University of Arkansas researchers.

Of course, delays didn't sit well with Monsanto which stands to make some $350 million a year in dicamba and related seed sales according to Jonas Oxgaard, an analyst with Bernstein who described the products as "their big moneymaker."

Meanwhile, farmers are exploring their own legal options with some joining a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto and BASF, seeking compensation for damaged crops.

For farmers, “it’s highly emotional,” said Doug Goehring, North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner.


Tom Burnham, who farms 11,000 acres near Blytheville, Ark., said he hired a lawyer to advise him on how to handle a neighbor whose errant dicamba spraying, Mr. Burnham said, reduced some fields’ harvest by 5% to 20%. Mr. Burnham said he didn’t expect to make money on any lawsuit he may file. “I’m doing it just to make a point.”

Seems like it may be time for Monsanto execs to start pulling some strings at the EPA again...


OverTheHedge Rex Andrus Thu, 11/09/2017 - 23:49 Permalink

I have long thought that, in the cut and thrust of corporate competition, it is odd that no one has ever (to my knowledge, at least), taken out a company's top management for profit. You could short the shares, kill the executives, and use the new profit to leverage a buyout of the suddenly rudderless behemoth. Why should it only be armies (and Hilary?) that kill people?This would be one of the plots of the many books I will never write. Title would probably be "Corporate Wars", but it might be a bit too generic.

In reply to by Rex Andrus

ed31337 OverTheHedge Fri, 11/10/2017 - 02:46 Permalink

When the people in charge own the media, these sorts of activities go on but make very little lasting memory in the lives of the proletariat. Often it is not reported on at all, or as a small one-time footnote if it is reported. Afterall, the guy is dead, end of story, right?Anybody remember the mysterious death of the Scenix microcontroller company's founder/chairman? Yeah, didn't think so.

In reply to by OverTheHedge

Money_for_Nothing ed31337 Fri, 11/10/2017 - 07:16 Permalink

"Mr. Junkins suffered a heart attack while on a business trip to Stuttgart, Germany, where he was visiting customers, said Stan Victor, a spokesman for Texas Instruments. Mr. Junkins had no history of heart disease"

Junkins had made some major deals with a large German multinational. Might have been a way to make sure none of those deals could be audited effectively. Or he was being rewarded and died from a good time. Or was taken out as a warning to others.

Two birds setting on a perch. One says to the other, "You smell something fishy?"

In reply to by ed31337

OverTheHedge ebworthen Thu, 11/09/2017 - 23:56 Permalink

Certainly all barley, and possibly quite a lot of wheat (I'm not a wheat farmer, so don't know current practice) is killed before harvest, to ensure sufficient drying out of the grain before harvest. In other words, the entire crop is sprayed with roundup about 20 days before harvest. Makes you think, doesn't it....? You used to have quite a lot of intestinal flora, before you started eating roundup on a regular basis.Me, I eat potatoes. A lot. Call me "Irish"

In reply to by ebworthen

puckles Cheka_Mate Thu, 11/09/2017 - 19:10 Permalink

That reminds me of a story from many years ago, when I was still in the chemical industry. A rep from a household word manufacturer offered to put a chelant they made in his OJ, and drink it in front of us, to demonstrate just how harmless it was; that he was a professional born-again probably assisted his spiel.  The product was anything but harmless, and was a major component of the crap used in the aftermath of the BP disaster in the Gulf.  Well, we know how that went.

In reply to by Cheka_Mate

puckles “Rebellion to … Thu, 11/09/2017 - 19:14 Permalink

What you may not realize is that that actually occurs right now.  Roundup is sprayed on so-called "resistant" grains right before they are harvested, to aid in the dessication process.  This includes wheat, oats, you name it.  Your kids are already eating that crap, quite liberally, unless you are rigorous about organic food (and even then, there may have been drift).

In reply to by “Rebellion to …