Farmers May Be Confused by Dicamba Application Instructions

Reuters writers Tom Polensek and Karl Plume reported today that, “With Monsanto Co’s latest flagship weed killer, dicamba, banned in Arkansas and under review by U.S. regulators over concerns it can drift in the wind, farmers and weed scientists are also complaining that confusing directions on the label make the product hard to use safely.

“Dicamba, sold under different brand names by BASF and DuPont, can vaporize under certain conditions and the wind can blow it into nearby crops and other plants. The herbicide can damage or even kill crops that have not been genetically engineered to resist it.

To prevent that from happening, Monsanto created a 4,550-word label with detailed instructions. Its complexity is now being cited by farmers and critics of the product. It was even singled out in a lawsuit as evidence that Monsanto’s product may be virtually impossible to use properly.”

The article noted that, “‘The restriction on these labels is unlike anything that’s ever been seen before,’ said Bob Hartzler, an agronomy professor and weed specialist at Iowa State University.

“The label instructions are also of interest to lawyers for farmers suing Monsanto, BASF and DuPont over damage they attribute to the potent weed killer moving off-target to nearby plants.

A civil lawsuit filed against the companies in federal court in St. Louis last month alleged it might be impossible to properly follow the label. Restrictions on wind speed, for example, do not allow for timely sprayings over the top of growing soybeans, according to the complaint.”

The Reuters article added that, “Monsanto said that while its label is detailed, it is not difficult to follow.

“‘It uses very simple words and terms,’ Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of strategy, told Reuters. ‘They are not complex in a fashion that inhibits the ability of making a correct application.’

“BASF and DuPont could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit on Friday.”

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