Monsanto Created a Huge Problem. Now That Problem Might Be Driving Sales.

“It seems like farmers have no choice but to buy dicamba-resistant seeds from Monsanto.”

A farmer shows his dicamba-damaged soybean plant in Arkansas.Andrew DeMillo/AP

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About 4 percent of all soybean crops planted in the United States have been damaged by a weed killer this year, the New York Times has reported. On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops had been affected by dicamba.

In June, Mother Jones reported that dicamba, much of which is manufactured by Monsanto, “causes the plants’ leaves to cup together, their budding stems to die back, and their beans to curl into twisted, malformed pods.” As a result, many farmers have been forced to buy Monsanto’s seeds that are resistant to dicamba. 

“It is an extremely high profile and significant situation,” Rueben Baris, the acting chief of the herbicides branch of EPA told the New York Times. Starting this year, farmers began using the herbicide on genetically modified soybean crops, which are not harmed by it, but the weed killer has been drifting off and landing on non-modified soybean crops.

“I think it [dicamba] is an inherently volatile product,” University of Missouri weed scientist Kevin Bradley told Mother Jones in August.

Nearly 3,000 complaints came from 25 of 34 states who use the “over-the-top” application. The problem is especially acute in Arkansas and Missouri, where there were 986 and 310 complaints, respectively. 

Pesticide manufacturers are confident that they will solve the problem in the next year, but EPA officials are warning that the approval for use of the herbicide could be jeopardy if the steps the company takes don’t significantly reduce the scope of the problem by next growing season. Cynthia Palmer, who is a member of an EPA pesticide advisory committee told the New York Times“it seems like farmers have no choice but to buy dicamba-resistant seeds from Monsanto.”

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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