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Dicamba Drift Damaged Over 180 Acres Of Farmer’s Soybeans, Lawsuit Claims

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A Nebraska farmer indicates that drifting dicamba herbicide damaged more than 180 acres of soybean crops, blaming the widespread and growing problem on the reckless promotion of Xtendimax, Engeina and Fexapan, and over-reliance on Roundup-resistant crops. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Shane Greckel in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska on July 10, naming Monsanto, BASF, Dupont De Nemours and Company, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International as defendants.

Greckel indicates that he found significant dicamba damage to his soybean crops in June and July of 2017. The damage, spread over 180 acres, caused cupping, curling, discoloration, stunting, twisting and other deformities.

According to the lawsuit, the damage was indicative of the use of dicamba, an herbicide sold under the brand names Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan. The lawsuit claims that the weed killer drifted from nearby fields, where farmers had planted soybeans genetically modified to be resistant to the weed killer. However, his were not, and the dicamba drift caused devastating consequences for his crops.

Dicamba is a synthetic herbicide, which has been used for years by farmers nationwide to control weeds. However, it has typically only been used during certain times of year. Following the promotion of crops that are resistant to the herbicide, farmers began to apply dicamba more frequently, resulting in problems when it drifts onto neighboring crops.

The case joins a growing number of dicambi crop damage lawsuits filed over the last year, each raising similar allegations that Monsanto and BASF marketed the new type of tolerant crop, which can withstand exposure to their herbicides, knowing it would cause severe and widespread damage to neighboring crops, essentially forcing other farmers to defensively plant crops using their resistent seed in future growing seasons.

Greckel’s lawsuit notes that the only reason dicamba and dicamba-resistant crops are necessary is due to the evolution of Roundup-resistant weeds, which came about due to the widespread use of Roundup weed killer and Roundup-resistant crops.

“Since introduction of genetically modified seeds designed to be resistant to the active ingredient in Roundup in 1996, over-reliance on Monsanto’s Roundup as a primary weed control herbicide created an environment in which Roundup resistant weeds flourished and proliferated across the United States,” the lawsuit states. “To retain its stranglehold on the seed and herbicide markets despite the decreasing efficacy of Roundup, and the impending loss of its patent protections for Roundup Ready seeds, Monsanto created new strains of soybean and cotton that were resistant to dicamba—an older, more toxic, and more uncontrollable herbicide.”

Complaints filed since August 2017 claim that Monsanto rushed the system and either withheld or concealed information from regulatory authorities about the volatility of Engenia, and marketed dicamba-tolerant crops without approval from regulators. The complaints allege that the manufacturer knew the use of the herbicide would endanger other nearby crops.

Farmers in several states claim that they have suffered millions of dollars in crop damage when Engenia or Xtendimax drifted onto neighboring, sensitive crops in the 2017 growing season.

According to a report issued in June, dicamba damage appears to be even worse this year, as use of the weed killer and resistant crops have spread. Many say farmers feel they have no choice, and must either buy dicamba-resistant soybeans or see their crops wither and die due to its use in other fields. A number of lawsuits have accused Monsanto of purposely designing dicamba to do crop damage in order to force farmers to buy its products.

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