|© Denis Balibouse / Reuters |
The EPA has quietly approved the usage of Monsanto’s brand new
herbicide, which the company says is less “volatile” than all
alternative dicamba-based compounds that have caused massive crop
damage, lawsuits and even bloodshed in the past.
The US Environmental
Protection Agency approved the usage of the dicamba-based herbicide
XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, on Wednesday, although the event
went almost unnoticed by the media and activists, who have been
otherwise preoccupied with the US Presidential elections' fallout.
company still needs to get approval from individual states before the
product can be sold to farmers, but according to Monsanto’s spokesman
Kyel Richard, it should be in the market by the start of next growing
Dicamba is a decades-old herbicide, proven to be extremely volatile
and drift-prone, vaporizing from treated fields and potentially
affecting neighboring crops. Dicamba functions basically by increasing a
plant’s growth rate to the point that it outgrows its nutrient
capabilities and dies.
The weed killer has seen a surge in usage
this year, since Monsanto’s new dicamba-resistant seeds entered the
market before XtendiMax. Monsanto introduced Bollgard II XtendFlex
cotton in 2015 and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans were introduced
earlier this year.
Farmers had to use third-party older dicamba-based herbicides with
Monsanto’s seeds, despite the company’s warnings. According to multiple
reports, such activities caused a massive damage to off-target non-GM
crops in at least ten states in America.
|Farm feud: Monsanto and its clients under fire for damaging crops |
The affected crops
included soybeans, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, cotton,
peas, peanuts, alfalfa and even peaches. Bill Bader, owner of Bader
Peaches, Missouri's largest peach producer, estimated a loss of 30,000
“We need to go after Monsanto. These farmers are being hung out to dry,” said Bader.
over dicamba drifts between farmers even led to a shooting in Arizona,
which left one farmer dead, according to local law enforcement.
with the approval of the brand new herbicide, some farmers affected by
the drifts, said they would have to switch to Monsanto’s
dicamba-resistant crops to protect themselves from possible incidents in
the future, by way of insurance, St. Louis Dispatch reported. EPA
launched a criminal investigation in October into the illegal
application of drift-prone herbicides onto new plants. It’s uncertain,
whether these measures will prevent dicamba-related crop damage in the
future, since some farmers might continue using extremely volatile
Meanwhile, the notorious agrochemical
giant fell under fire for releasing new GM crops into the market before
their new, supposedly, “less-volatile” dicamba-based herbicide [had been approved]. Monsanto
officials said that the farmers themselves asked the company to release
the new seeds, believing it would boost production.
“We chose to launch this year to allow growers to experience the industry-leading varieties of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans,” company spokesman Dan Urnikis told Delta Farm Press. “They can plant with confidence this year in anticipation of the chemical approval for the 2017 growing season.”
The farmers and their unwitting neighbors have certainly “experienced” the effect of premature release of Monsanto’s new GM seeds. And since Monsanto’s “best products [continued] to sit on the shelf,” it’s the farmers [who are] to blame for usage of “illegal” chemicals.
|EU approves imports of genetically modified Monsanto soybeans |
Monsanto’s claims of the new product being “less-volatile”
appeared even more suspicious after EPA published a list of the very
specific and strict rules of how to apply XtendiMax. To mitigate the
possibility of drift, the new brand cannot be applied from aircraft or
when wind speed is over 15 mph (6.7 m/s).
“Buffer zones to protect sensitive areas when the wind is blowing toward them” must be observed, as well as some very specific Monsanto-manufactured nozzles must be used.
“If done correctly, this is all a terrific tool for farmers to fight glyphosate-tolerant weeds,” Tamara Nelsen, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) senior director of commodities, said.
Some scientists believe however, that this “terrific tool”
does not battle the most terrifying problem – superweeds. Basically,
XtendiMax can kill weeds, resistant to Monsanto’s other famous product
Roundup, while overuse and misuse of herbicides create new superweeds.
Besides that, dicamba is not a new chemical, and the first plants
resistant to is were discovered in early 1990s.
“We can’t spray our way out of this problem. We need to get off the pesticide treadmill,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity, in a prepared statement. “Pesticide
resistant superweeds are a serious threat to our farmers, and piling on
more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more
pesticides. We can’t fight evolution – it’s a losing strategy.” (emphasis added)