(NaturalNews) Farmers in 10 states have now reported damage to their crops as result of other farmers illegally spraying dicamba on newly approved genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The new GMO cotton and soybeans are able to withstand application of a chemical cocktail made from dicamba and glyphosate, the ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
Monsanto designed the seeds for use alongside the dicamba/glyphosate combo, however, while the GMOs have been approved, the new herbicide has not. National Public Radio (NPR) reports that in essence, Monsanto “gave farmers a new weed-killing tool that they couldn’t legally use.”
But farmers are using it, and it’s destroying the crops of other farmers who aren’t growing the newly approved GMOs. Not only is dicamba more toxic than Roundup, but it’s also more prone to drifting.
Dicamba more toxic and drift-prone than Roundup
Modern Farmer reports that one of the reasons dicamba is much more volatile is because it “easily becomes airborne and drifts away from where it is applied.”
The herbicide was previously used in agriculture as a pre-emergent, meaning it was applied to the soil to kill weeds before planting.
“But this spring farmers began planting Monsanto’s new soybeans on about 1 million acres in the US, and have been spraying their fields with dicamba (to kill an especially pernicious strain of glyphosate-resistant pigweed)—which then drifts on the wind, damaging soybeans on other farmers’ fields that are not resistant to the herbicide.”
The resulting drift has damaged crops in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
More than 100 farmers in Missouri say that their cops have been damaged by dicamba. So far, the following have been affected: peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, cotton, peas, peanuts, alfalfa and soybeans.
EPA refuses to take action against illegal spraying of dicamba
While the damage has been reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government is not taking action.
“The EPA has done very little in response to the complaints, and some states are beginning to take matters into their own hands to protect their farmers and prevent further crop loss,” reports EWG.
The state of Arkansas does seem to be taking action, however. A proposal by the state’s Pesticide Committee could prevent farmers from spraying certain dicamba formulations during the growing season, from mid-April to mid-September.
Other states are urging farmers to hire attorneys and take legal action. “When states and lawyers are forced to take action to protect farmers from pesticides, it’s clear that the federal pesticide law is broken,” reports EWG.
Recently, an advisory notice was issued by the EPA reminding farmers that spraying dicamba on the new GMOs is not yet legal. It also instructed farmers to follow directions listed on chemical labels.
Pesticide applicators don’t read labels, report finds
In July, a survey conducted by the University of Missouri found that only 43 percent of pesticide applicators in the state read the label each time before mixing and spraying chemicals.
The failure to follow proper protocol has contributed to a significant increase in pesticide pollution in the state, resulting in some 70 investigations involving 40,000 acres of farmland.
Normally, the state averages somewhere between 75 and 80 complaints regarding the misuse of pesticides per calendar year. However, 115 complaints were reported in the month of July alone, said Judy Grundler, division director for plant industries with the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Farmers in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri say that drifting dicamba has in some cases destroyed up to 30 percent of yields.
The continual spraying of the herbicide is certain to cause more superweeds and more pesticide pollution. An estimated 15 million acres of dicamba-resistant seeds are expected to be planted in the United States next year.
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