The Monsanto Issue You May Not Know About

Monsanto hasn’t made a great name for itself over the years, and its recently engineered comeback for the herbicide dicamba has only been rife with controversy. Why? Because after application, dicamba has a dangerous tendency to spread and wipe out crops that it wasn’t even applied to. That’s right—dicamba is decimating non-GMO crops and unsuspecting farmlands.

Dicamba is an old weed killer which fell out of favor over 20 years ago with the advent of glyphosate (which, while still toxic, is less terrible than dicamba). But, in 2016, new powerful dicamba formulations were registered with the EPA to combat the glyphosate-resistant superweeds that come with widespread overapplication.

But here is the issue: dicamba practically destroys everything in its path. It cannot be applied to normal crops— only specially genetically engineered crops designed to withstand the poisonous spray. Other crops get severely damaged or die.

But dicamba doesn’t stay in one place very easily. It tends to drift to other farmlands, both near and far. And if those aren’t resistant dicamba-resistant crops, their growth gets stunted, damaged, or killed.

How does dicamba spread?

Dicamba is extremely volatile and can actually vaporize into a gas after application, especially in high heats. In this form, it spreads easily across acres and acres of farmland on a gentle breeze, in some cases even affecting farms that aren’t even adjacent to where the appilcation originated.

Even Monsanto’s new dicamba formulations with “vapor grip” technology have been shown to wander off target and damage nearby plants.

Dicamba damage has affected all sorts of farmlands in the midwest, from conventional to even small-scale organic. A University of Missouri report estimates that 3.8 million acres of soybeans exhibit signs of dicamba damage. And it’s not from misuse of the product, according to researchers. It’s the nature of dicamba and its indiscriminate spraying techniques.

Of course, Monsanto disagrees.

Damaged Soybeans

Dicamba damaged soy

According to NPR, “Monsanto’s executives insist that the people who sprayed dicamba were just learning how to do it properly and didn’t follow directions. Partridge says his company checked out more than a thousand cases of dicamba damage, ‘and in 88 percent of those instances, the label was not followed.’ Farmers or pesticide applicators sprayed dicamba too close to neighboring fields, didn’t clean out their equipment properly or used the wrong nozzles.”

Even if this were true (there is evidence and independent research to suggest that it is not), 88 percent user error sounds like something Monsanto has a corporate responsibility to address and clean up.

Although the EPA is well aware that this herbicide can drift and decimate any non-GMO surrounding farmlands, it has taken very weak measures to counteract. At best, it’s considered “restricted use“ and requires special training, record-taking, and application precautions. (That it is even legal to spray on our food supply is mind-blowing.)

But not everyone loves its use. Arkansas has been trying to ban dicamba throughout the state, and seems to actually be winning—although there’s still quite a battle ahead. Monsanto doesn’t want to allow a precedent to be set for other states to hop on the bandwagon, after all.

Do farmers need dicamba?

No. They’re only using it because they’ve sprayed so much Roundup, they’ve created resistant superweeds. In order to kill these weeds, they need a much more powerful, more poisonous herbicide for genetically modified crops designed to withstand the highly toxic spray.

Could weeds be managed in a more effective manner, without genetic modification of seeds and highly toxic sprays? Depends who you ask. Some farmers will say no, they need dicamba. Others will say it is absolutely not worth the risk.

But how many people actually want something that toxic sprayed on their food? No thank you. Let’s keep supporting organic and local small scale growers. It’s the only way to get the best of Goliath.

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Images via Thinkstock.


Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

rachel r
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you!

HEIKKI R6 months ago

thank you

Hannah K
Past Member 6 months ago

Thank you

Frances G
Carla G7 months ago

thanks for posting

Leo C
Leo C7 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Elizabeth M
Past Member 7 months ago

very bad noted thanks for this.

Ross W
Ross W8 months ago


Leo Custer
Leo C8 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Louise R
Past Member 8 months ago

Thank you