Monsanto Created a Huge Problem. Now That Problem Might Be Driving Sales.

“It seems like farmers have no choice but to buy dicamba-resistant seeds from Monsanto.”

A farmer shows his dicamba-damaged soybean plant in Arkansas.Andrew DeMillo/AP

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About 4 percent of all soybean crops planted in the United States have been damaged by a weed killer this year, the New York Times has reported. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops had been affected by dicamba.

In June, Mother Jones reported that dicamba, much of which is manufactured by Monsanto, “causes the plants’ leaves to cup together, their budding stems to die back, and their beans to curl into twisted, malformed pods.” As a result, many farmers have been forced to buy Monsanto’s seeds that are resistant to dicamba. 

“It is an extremely high profile and significant situation,” Rueben Baris, the acting chief of the herbicides branch of EPA told the New York Times. Starting this year, farmers began using the herbicide on genetically modified soybean crops, which are not harmed by it, but the weed killer has been drifting off and landing on non-modified soybean crops.

“I think it [dicamba] is an inherently volatile product,” University of Missouri weed scientist Kevin Bradley told Mother Jones in August.

Nearly 3,000 complaints came from 25 of 34 states who use the “over-the-top” application. The problem is especially acute in Arkansas and Missouri, where there were 986 and 310 complaints, respectively. 

Pesticide manufacturers are confident that they will solve the problem in the next year, but EPA officials are warning that the approval for use of the herbicide could be jeopardy if the steps the company takes don’t significantly reduce the scope of the problem by next growing season. Cynthia Palmer, who is a member of an EPA pesticide advisory committee told the New York Times“it seems like farmers have no choice but to buy dicamba-resistant seeds from Monsanto.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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