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Monsanto and BASF face a crop damage lawsuit brought by another farmer, which alleges that the dicamba-based herbicides Xtendimax and Engenia caused widespread destruction of soybean crops.
Gregory Harris, of Missouri, filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on November 20. naming Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont as defendants.
Harris farms about 400 acres of soybeans in Golden City, Missouri. According to the lawsuit, 354 of those acres were planted with soybeans that had not been genetically modified to resist the effects of dicamba. Those crops were damaged when dicamba drifted onto them from neighboring fields, according to the lawsuit.
Dicamba is a synthetic herbicide, which has been used for years by farmers nationwide to control weeds. However, it was only used during certain times of year.
A growing number of dicambi crop damage lawsuits have been filed in recent months, each raising similar allegations that Monsanto and BASF marketed a new type of tolerant crop that can withstand exposure to Engenia and similar herbicides. The new crops were designed to allow farmers to use dicambi “over-the-top” for the first time in 2016, which involves applying the herbicide on crops emerging from the ground.
This has drastically increased use of the herbicide, but many farmers now indicate that dicambi drifted to neighboring crops that were not resistant, causing massive damages and losses.
A dicamba class action lawsuit filed in August claims 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 complaint alleges that the manufacturer knew the use of the herbicide would endanger other nearby crops.
Farmers in several states have suffered millions of dollars in crop damage when Engenia or Xtendimax drifted onto neighboring, sensitive crops in the 2017 growing season.
“Industry experts predicted Xtend’s premature release would result in damage to
non-target crops and plants,” the lawsuit states. “Other experts indicated that even with EPA approved formulations, dicamba damage was inevitable.”
Harris’s lawsuit notes that a number of states have already put temporary bans on the herbicide’s use after experiencing widespread crop damage. In July, all dicamba-based products were banned in Missouri until at least December 1. Engenia was banned in Arkansas for the remainder of the 2017 crop season. The state had already banned Xtendimax in January 2017.
That same month, Tennessee put emergency restrictions in place on dicamba over-the-top application.
The farmers’ lawsuits all claim that Monsanto has put farmers in an untenable position: Either purchase dicamba-ready crops from them, or risk having your crops devastated by your neighbors’ use of dicamba-based products.