Dicamba: Monsanto Legal Action Against Arkansas State Plant Board

Jacob Bunge reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “A fight over one of the most powerful new weapons against hard-to-kill weeds, developed by agricultural giant Monsanto Co., is spilling into the courts.

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.”

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

Arkansas agriculture officials have scheduled a hearing Wednesday to discuss stiffer dicamba controls, which Monsanto and some farmers are fighting. The new controls are subject to the approval of a subcommittee of state legislators.”

The Journal article stated that, “Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s head of strategy, is expected to testify, as are proponents of tighter restrictions. Monsanto has criticized some Arkansas state agricultural officials and academics involved in researching and regulating dicamba, accusing them of bias and overstepping their authority. ‘The process they used in Arkansas is broken,’ Mr. Partridge said. ‘Growers need access to this tool,’ he said.”

Today’s Journal item added that, “Even with the reports of widespread damage, farmers and crop researchers say many affected fields recovered, thanks to good weather over the latter half of the growing season. The USDA is projecting a record U.S. soybean crop. The outcome could have been worse with drier weather, researchers said.

“Farmers are exploring their own legal options. Some have joined class action lawsuits against Monsanto and BASF, seeking compensation for damaged crops. The companies are contesting those lawsuits.”

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