Dicamba is a highly volatile herbicide that tends to drift from its origin to other surrounding areas, damaging farmland. Dicamba’s brand names include XtendiMax (a newer formulation made by Monsanto), FeXapan (by DuPont), and Engenia (by BASF). According to the National Pesticide Information Center, more than 1,100 herbicide products contain dicamba; it has damaged more than 3 million acres of farmland.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Monsanto-made, dicamba-resistant crops, which prompted some farmers to spray the herbicide on crops — a use for which it is not approved. Some of these dicamba products then volatilized, becoming airborne and moving onto other farmers’ properties, causing tremendous yield loss for their crops.
Due to crop damage, and with evidence emerging that the manufacturers may have marketed the product while aware of its negative effects, many farmers are filing dicamba lawsuits. They want to hold manufacturers like Bayer, DuPont, and BASF accountable, and receive compensation for their losses.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DICAMBA
Until recently, due to its high volatility, dicamba was not approved for use on crops. Monsanto’s Roundup has been the pesticide of choice for several decades — approximately 90 percent of all U.S. soy, cotton, and corn plants are glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops, or, they’re Roundup-resistant.
Sixty-one million farm acres—more than two-thirds of all the farm acres in America—now harbor glyphosate-resistant superweeds. In 2010, that number was just 32.6 million acres.
To address this issue, Monsanto invented new GMO crops that are resistant to both Roundup and dicamba. These crops were introduced to the market during the 2016 growing season, before any dicamba formulation received approval for on-crop applications. This led to widespread illegal spraying of older dicamba formulations.
The resulting drift led to massive crop yield losses. More than 200,000 acres in Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee were damaged by dicamba last year. This year’s damage has dwarfed that acreage and led to restrictions in several states. Farmers have filed hundreds of complaints about dicamba in at least 21 states. Arkansas voted to restrict its use for 120 days, and may ban the herbicide in 2018.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) approval of dicamba for on-crop use was contingent on reformulating the herbicide to eliminate its volatility and propensity to drift. A new formulation of dicamba made by Monsanto (called XttendiMax) was approved in November 2016, and a second formulation made by German chemical company BASF (called Engenia) was approved in December 2016.
These new dicamba formulations were supposed to be safer and less prone to drift than older versions. But if that’s the case, why have farmers filed thousands of complaints?
Dicamba Misuse Complaints Piling Up
If the newly approved dicamba formulations had succeeded in reducing volatility, we should not have seen widespread damage to dicamba-vulnerable crops from 2017 onwards.
But we have. There have been reports of dicamba damaging crops in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. According to one estimate, more than 3.6 million acres of plants were damaged by dicamba in 2017 alone.
Trees are also suffering dicamba damage. Weakened, dead, or dying trees have been showing up in orchards – causing damage to fruit – as well as in parks and on residential neighborhood sidewalks. According to some experts, dicamba has done more damage in recent years than even the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, an invasive pest species that has killed millions of trees across 25 states.
In early summer 2020, farmers were very concerned about continued dicamba damage, and many were projecting serious financial losses because of the herbicide.
FARMERS FILE DICAMBA LAWSUITS
While local authorities have leveled some fines against farmers who misuse dicamba, until recently these fines were between $200 and $1,000 — a number that pales in comparison to the crop yield losses dicamba causes. According to Modern Farmer, farmers adversely impacted by dicamba will lose an estimated 10 to 30 percent of their annual crop yield.
Many farmers in Arkansas and neighboring states have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, DuPont, and BASF seeking restitution for the damage done to their crops.
For more information on dicamba lawsuits, visit our dicamba lawsuit page. If you are a commercial farmer who has suffered damages due to dicamba, contact us today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. You pay nothing unless we recover for you.