Dicamba Class Lawsuit Filed, News Report Says

As suspected drift from dicamba took a toll on farmers the past two growing seasons, Monsanto — the Creve Coeur-based agribusiness company that helped give the herbicide newfound prominence with its introduction of dicamba-tolerant crop varietiespublicly urged growers not to spray illegal kinds of the product while new formulations supposedly less prone to drift waited for regulatory approval.

But a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis accuses company sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances that using unauthorized or ‘off-label’ spray varieties would be all right.

“‘This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person,’ the suit alleges, based on farmer testimony. ‘Their sales pitch: assure purchasers that off-label and illegal uses of dicamba would ‘be just fine.'”

The Post-Dispatch article noted that, “The suit outlines the shifting circumstances that have surrounded suspected dicamba damage since Monsanto first released dicamba-tolerant cotton in 2015 and brought resistant soybeans to market the following year. Corresponding herbicides produced by the defendants weren’t available for either growing season, only gaining approval since late 2016. Their absence led many growers with dicamba-tolerant seeds to allegedly turn to more drift-prone — or volatile — forms of the herbicide, leaving their fields unharmed but putting nearby growers with nonresistant crops at risk.

“But even though the new, proper forms of the herbicide are now available, alleged misuse of dicamba has shot to new heights in 2017. Hundreds of complaints have poured in to state officials in Arkansas and Missouri alone, with reports of other suspected damage emerging in places such as Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana.”

Mr. Gray added that, “Monsanto and BASF cited their efforts to educate growers about correct application of dicamba.

“‘We remain confident in growers’ ability to follow all application requirements and abide by the law,’ Monsanto said in a statement. ‘The (Environmental Protection Agency) spent nearly seven years reviewing and analyzing data and research conducted before issuing a label. The lawsuit is wholly without merit, and we will defend ourselves accordingly.’

“DuPont declined to comment on the litigation, but said ‘this year thousands of growers have used these products properly and successfully.'”

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