3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid
March 19, 2017 4:28 PM   Subscribe

There's something in the air in the Missouri bootheel, and it's the auxinic herbicide dicamba. Dicamba has been around since the 1940s, but it's increasingly in the news thanks to Xtend, Monsanto's "crop system" comprising (a) genetically-modified dicamba- (and glyphosate-) resistant broadleaf crops and (b) a dicamba formulation resistant to drifting away on the wind. With the EPA only approving the reduced-volatility dicamba last November, farmers who planted the already-approved Xtend crops sprayed existing (volatile) dicamba formulations anyway last year, harming adjacent non-resistant plants. In the aftermath, Missouri's largest peach farm is suing Monsanto for millions, and a dicamba drift dispute seems to have driven one farmer to murder.

NB: "Monsanto" is a term that may jerk a lot of knees, and that may be fair enough, but it's worth noting that this idea of reviving a "classic" herbicide through genetically-modified resistance isn't just a Monsanto trick: Dow AgroSciences is doing the same for 2,4-D through its "Enlist" programme. Original recipe 2-4-D also likes to drift, but it looks like Dow's own two-part system hasn't experienced the same timing debacle that Monsanto's has... yet?
posted by tss (16 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know Monsanto's done plenty of terrible things, but I'm having difficulty grasping why this one's their fault. The damage is done by farmers who are using illegal products. Yeah, they're emboldened and enabled to use them because of the Monsanto crops, but it's still the farmers' fault.

If your neighbors buy body armor and are shooting BB guns, and you get hit, why should that be the fault of the armor manufacturer, and not your idiot neighbors?
posted by explosion at 4:51 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


If your neighbor bought body armor from a company that said, "hey this body armor is great and it stops bullets, but we won't be selling the gun that's guranteed to keep the bullets on your property until next year, but it stops ALL BULLETS, wink wink," and then the neighbor started shooting old bullets that ended up hitting your house, who's fault is it?
posted by thecjm at 5:00 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Still the idiot neighbor.
posted by sanka at 5:11 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Dow AgroSciences is doing the same for 2,4-D through its "Enlist" programme.

Um... They probably could have come up with a better name for a direct descendant of Agent Orange.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:20 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I believe it's the other ingredient - 2,4,5-T - that was mostly responsible for the particular toxicity of Agent Orange, via dioxins produced as a side effect in manufacturing. 2,4-D probably isn't a great thing to be exposed to chronically but it was around for years before Agent Orange and remains very common after.
posted by atoxyl at 7:35 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


The idiot neighbors and the people who are selling the *old* bullets, honestly.

Which doesn't appear to be (just) Monsanto.

I can understand why some of the people are trying to go after Monsanto -- when my state's largest peach orchard lost enough trees that they're not expecting to recover, ever (!), there are a ton of damages that need to be paid up -- but Monsanto isn't really the problem here. It's not like their seeds were the only ones on the market.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:43 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


(I know that info is not strictly relevant to the joke)
posted by atoxyl at 7:47 PM on March 19




The idiot neighbors can face criminal and civil charges for illegal application of dicamba. However, the farmers whose crops have been ruined by pesticide drift may have no way to be compensated for their tremendous losses other than suing Monsanto. A lot of farm insurance providers won't cover spray drift, and many farmers (a) don't want to sue their neighbors, since that can make life hell especially in a rural area, and (b) know that there's not much point in suing their neighbors, because their neighbors are also farmers without a ton of cash so they probably won't be able to collect the judgment anyway.

Monsanto may well win the suit. I'm sure that when they decided to rush Xtend to the market prior to the approval of the less-volatile dicamba formulations, their legal counsel advised them to blame the idiot neighbors, since Monsanto absolutely knew that this would happen. Soybean farmers operate on a cycle of huge debt. They pay a ton for seed and fertilizer and they hope their crop does well enough to recover that ton and make some profit on top. Monsanto functionally created the glyphospate-resistant pigweed that was about to ruin these farmers, offered them salvation in the form of a seed tolerant of a second pesticide, and didn't offer them a formulation of that pesticide that was legal to use in-season. What Monsanto did might technically be legal, since reckless endangerment laws only pertain to physical harm, not economic harm, but Monsanto absolutely exhibited a "culpable disregard for foreseeable consequences."
posted by xylothek at 7:25 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


A few years back, the farmer we rent an unused field to used SOMETHING mixed in with his glyphosate application that off gassed, he did not get spray drift on my gardens and orchard but just being within a couple hundred yards of the field damn near killed everything I had planted. He admitted that the stuff he added "turns into a gas in warm weather", and that he had killed entire field edge tree lines in the past by using the stuff in hot weather. He stopped using it at our place after I told him the garden and fruit trees were more important than his rent check. I wonder what the hell it was, a couple years before this soybean was available, I think.

NOT better living through science.
posted by bert2368 at 1:41 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Huh. Now I need to research what the dying trees looked like, because something last year killed my peaches, pears, and a couple of really old pecans. Like one day they were fine, blooming, fruiting, and two weeks later they were just dead. We are downwind of a soybean farm.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:12 PM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I'm sure that when they decided to rush Xtend to the market prior to the approval of the less-volatile dicamba formulations, their legal counsel advised them to blame the idiot neighbors, since Monsanto absolutely knew that this would happen.... What Monsanto did might technically be legal, since reckless endangerment laws only pertain to physical harm, not economic harm, but Monsanto absolutely exhibited a "culpable disregard for foreseeable consequences."

Perhaps I've just been hardened since the election, but bankruptcy -- a total and complete loss of property -- is what should be prescribed for the fools who decided to use illegal versions of pesticides in order to gain an edge. Monsanto's not at fault here -- not in a country where gun manufacturers are protected by law. Those farmers are. As are the pesticide manufacturers who sell the current formulation.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:20 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I've wanted to kill my neighbor over his reckless herbicide/pesticide use because 2 years in a row he killed a good bit of our garden and made Mr. Roquette ill enough that he now must carry an epidemic at all times.
I have lived farming areas. I know these chemicals are tools of the trade. They are something I wish wasn't misused so much.
Actually, I would really rather it was all banned. Seriously, that stuff almost killed Mr. Roquette.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:54 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I know it's the least of Monsanto's concerns, but I feel like they could at least try and avoid making their product names sound like they come straight from the opening chapters of a post apocalyptic YA novel.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:20 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


he now must carry an epidemic at all times

Uh... He should probably double-check his doctor's orders.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:29 PM on March 21


epipen fail
posted by y2karl at 2:30 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


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