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Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready XTend: Dicamba & Roundup. The Poison Treadmill Continues

Use of Roundup has increased because of resistance to super weeds.

To battle the super weed crisis that American farmers have experienced with Roundup’s failure, the FDA approved  GMO (genetically modified) dicamba-resistant soybean & cotton crops.  This follows on the heels of the EPA green light for the “new &  improved” Roundup, Monsanto’s Xtend, a marriage between Roundup and Dicamba.

Dicamba’s been used since the 60’s. There’s one problem.  It’s highly volatile and prone to drift – even up to 72 hours after application –  to fields where it hasn’t been sprayed.

Soybean plant with Xtend damage. Photo: Andrea Morales for Washington Post

Farmers were told not to spray it directly on crops; only on the soil before planting, for post-emergent weed control. Dicamba has a tendency to drift when airborne,  so instructions were to maintain a sprayer height of 24 inches, adjust nozzles for a larger spray (heavier drops) and avoid use when weather conditions made drift more likely. Because of temperature inversions, night-time spraying was not advised. However, some farmers didn’t heed this advice & sprayed it directly on the GMO crops. In violation of federal pesticide laws, some used an older version of dicamba which is more prone to drift.

 A lawsuit was filed on July 19, 2017, against Monsanto, BASF and DuPont by 7 farmers in Arkansas citing crop damage. Approximately of 22% soybean crops were impacted by dicamba drift.  Over 3 million acres have been involved in 16 states, affecting not only farms but residential areas, as well as organic farms.

Missouri and Arkansas have banned the use of Xtend. Damage has been found in Mississippi, Illinois, Tennesee, and other areas of the South.

Monsanto, in its usual nefarious rush toward approval because of greed, didn’t test Xtend for commercial applications to avoid delay in the process.  BSAF limited their testing of their version, Engenia, further allowing scientists to “selectively choose” data for regulators.  “Monsanto, in particular, did very little volatility field work,” said Jason Norsworthy, an agronomy professor at the University of Arkansas.

More disconcerting is that research indicates this new pairing of herbicides may not work for very long. Scientists have found that in just 3 seasons Xtend is no longer effective against superweeds like pigweed.

So guess what?  More applications of Roundup and Dicamba will be needed. Or Monsanto, BASF, DuPont, Bayer or Syngenta will have to come up with another chemical concoction.

The poison treadmill continues.

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Author: Bernice Matherson

Humanitarian, environmental and food activist, blogging on current societal issues. My blogs cover what's in our food and how it affects our health; the effects of our seemingly small actions regarding chemical and pesticide use in and around our homes and its impact on our Earth.

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