According to the findings of a new study, side effect of exposure to dicamba, a weed killer sold under the brand names Xtendimax, Engenia and Fexapan, may include an increased risk of liver cancer and other injuries.
In a report published last week in the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers from the National Cancer Institute indicate they found a potential link between dicamba and liver cancer, raising concerns about the controversial weedkiller, which has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits involving widespread crop damage in the United States.
Dicamba is a synthetic herbicide sold under the brand names Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan. While it has been applied for years by farmers nationwide to control weeds, following the introduction of genetically modified crops resistant to dicamba, use has increased dramatically in recent years.
In this latest study, researchers used data from the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a prospective cohort of pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina, looking at data on individuals who reported using dicamba.
According to the findings, those within the highest 25% of levels of exposure had an 80% increased risk of liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer. There was also a 20% increased risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia among the same group.
In addition, the researchers found that the liver cancer risk lingered for 20 years after exposure. However, the researchers were able to exclude the risks of lung and colon cancer.
“In this first evaluation of liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, there was an association with increasing use of dicamba that persisted across lags of up to 20 years.
Dicamba Crop Damage lawsuits
As more farmers have been spraying the weedkiller “over-the-top”, since they are using genetically modified crops that are resistant to the herbicide, neighboring farms have suffered devastating crop damage due to dicamba.
Dozens of dicamba drift lawsuits have been filed since August 2017, alleging Monsanto rushed the system to market and either withheld or concealed information from regulatory authorities about the volatility of dicamba-resistant crops.
In February, a Missouri jury awarded $265 million to a peach farmer in the first dicamba crop damage lawsuit to go to trial. The verdict included $15 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, designed to punish Monsanto and BASF for their reckless behavior in marketing the widespread use of the weed killer.
The dicamba lawsuits claim the high volatility of dicamba, which appears to easily drift onto other crops, killing many of them if they are not dicamba resistant, is seen as a feature by the manufacturers, meant to force other farmers to use their expensive products to grow dicamba-tolerant GMO crops if they don’t want to suffer losses when their neighbors spray.
The recent verdict came in a case that was viewed as a “bellwether” for similar dicambi crop damage lawsuits that have been filed over the last couple years, each raising similar allegations that Monsanto and BASF are to blame for the chemical catastrophe occurring on millions of acres of farmlands across the U.S.