herbicide on crops

The herbicide dicamba continues to wreak havoc on farms across the United States, even now, as we approach the 2020 growing season. According to The New York Times, in 2017 alone, dicamba “damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops”.(1) In 2019, the number of dicamba drift complaints doubled in Illinois, reaching 724 complaints for that growing year. (2)

Damage has been reported not only to soybeans; tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, grapes, and tobacco have also been harmed by drifting and volatile dicamba herbicide.(3)

Ward Black Law Taking on Monsanto in Dicamba Lawsuits

Complaints against the toxic, volatile herbicide dicamba have continued since its approval for in-crop use in 2017. If you are a farmer whose crops have been damaged by dicamba, you know firsthand how harmful this drifting, volatile dicamba can be.

Since 2017, our dicamba attorneys have been hard at work investigating numerous complaints from farmers involving the weed killer dicamba, and filing claims for anyone whose crops have been damaged. Millions of acres have been damaged.

If your crops have been harmed by dicamba, we encourage you to contact Ward Black Law immediately. You may be eligible to pursue compensation for your losses.

In February 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) ordered that all pending dicamba lawsuit be centralized in an MDL in the Eastern District of Missouri. As of February 2020, there are approximately 170 plaintiffs who have filed claims against Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont. Their claims are consolidated before the Hon. Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr.

$265 Million Win for First Dicamba Trial

In February 2020, the first dicamba property damage case was tried before a jury, resulting in a $265 million verdict against Monsanto and BASF for decimating the Bader peach farm in southeastern Missouri. Because of repeated exposure to dicamba, Bader Farms alleged that its peach orchard was no longer operational.

The largest peach farmer in the state said that dicamba exposure started killing and weakening his fruit trees in 2015. He testified that it happened repeatedly while neighboring farms sprayed their trees. The jury agreed and awarded $15 million in actual damages and an additional $250 million in punitive damages. Bayer, parent company of Monsanto, and BASF were found equally liable.

The three-week trial was just the first of many anticipated. “[A]t least 140 similar cases head to U.S. courts later this year,” according to Reuters.(4)

Lawsuits Filed Due to Dicamba Causing Crop Damage

In the case of dicamba, we realize livelihoods are at stake. Dicamba damage to crops could cost farmers millions of dollars.

If you have been affected by dicamba, we urge you to call us now at (800) 531-9191 for a free consultation.

Our knowledgeable dicamba attorneys can evaluate your situation and advise you of your legal options.

We are currently accepting cases from farmers whose crops have been damaged by dicamba, a volatile and drifting herbicide. Even the smallest amount of dicamba can destroy crops that are not genetically modified to withstand this weed killer.

As the number of complaints continue to mount, we expect to file numerous dicamba lawsuits on behalf of farmers whose crops have been affected. Specifically, we are taking cases in which farmers have noticed any of the following types of dicamba damage to their crops:

  • Cupping
  • Curling
  • Strapping
  • Discoloration
  • Wrinkling
  • Stunting
  • Leaf elongation
  • Twisting
  • Trumpeting

Farmers are discovering dicamba damage to their crops even though they did not apply this herbicide to their own crops. Rather, a neighboring farmer may have applied dicamba to his dicamba-resistant crops. That “neighbor” could be sometimes miles away or even across state lines.

What Is Dicamba?

Dicamba is a “selective” herbicide, or weed killer. You can find dicamba in more than 1,100 products sold across the United States.(5)

“Products containing dicamba may be liquids, dusts or granules.” Sometimes the products are concentrates, and sometimes they are ready to use.(6)

Dicamba acts “like natural plant hormones known as auxins.” Auxins help “control plant growth.”(7)

Farmers can use dicamba on both woody weeds and broadleaf weeds. When farmers apply dicamba to weeds, “they grow in abnormal and uncontrollable ways.” Then, often, the weeds die.(8)

Problems with Dicamba

One of the major problems with dicamba, a weed killer, is that it does not stay where you put it. Dicamba can drift, sometimes miles from where it was applied.(9)

Prior to the 2017 growing season, farmers were not allowed to use dicamba on growing plants. They could use it before planting their seeds or after harvesting their crops.(10)

In 2016, that changed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed “new dicamba formulations” to be applied “over-the-top” beginning in the 2017 growing season. These new formulations of dicamba may be used on growing plants.(11)

Must Use Genetically Modified Seeds to Avoid Dicamba Drift

Farmers who did not use Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds are suffering serious consequences. Their crops are not resistant to dicamba, and their crops are languishing.

In the heat and humidity, dicamba is particularly volatile. Dicamba &dlquo;tends to evaporate from the soil or vegetation where it has been sprayed, creating a cloud of plant-killing vapor that can spread in unpredictable directions.

In the heat and humidity, dicamba is particularly volatile. Dicamba “tends to evaporate from the soil or vegetation where it has been sprayed, creating a cloud of plant-killing vapor that can spread in unpredictable directions.” Heat and humidity make the drifting and volatility even worse.(12) (13)

Even though Monsanto claims its newer versions of the weed killer have “low volatility,” and are less likely to become airborne, dicamba is becoming airborne. Dicamba has spread miles in some cases.(14)

In addition, according to NPR, researchers have noted that a lot of the dicamba damage they have seen has not appeared “to come from ‘physical drift’ of windblown droplets of dicamba.” Instead, they have seen hundreds of acres of soybean crops damaged by “what they had feared all along: volatilization.”(15)

When this dicamba vapor lands on crops that are not dicamba-resistant, the result is devastating. Millions of acres of crops have been damaged.(16)

And, according to The New York Times, “So much dicamba is being used that even a small percentage of drift can cause widespread damage.”(17)

So far, farmers in more than two dozen states have filed complaints. The damage is so severe that in July 2017 Missouri and Arkansas introduced short-term bans on the weed killer.(18) Since 2017, several states have imposed restrictions on in-crop applications, prohibiting spraying after certain points in the season when the temperature and weather conditions are likely to lead to volatilization.

Another Problem with Dicamba: Monsanto’s Seeds

The drifting, volatile weed killer dicamba and its desiccation of millions of acres of crops is bad enough. If you add in the role Monsanto plays, the problem becomes even greater.

Monsanto not only makes weed killers containing dicamba, the company has engineered the seeds that are resistant to it. According to Reuters, “Monsanto is banking on [its] weed killers using … dicamba – and [its] seeds engineered to resist it – to dominate soybean production in the United States.”(19)

Thanks in part to its dicamba-resistant soybean seeds, “Monsanto’s net sales increased $1.1 billion, or 8 percent, in fiscal year 2017.” In fact, according to Reuters, “The company aimed for its dicamba-resistant seeds to account for half the U.S. soybeans planted by 2019.”(20)

For farmers “who have not bought the expensive new seeds,” this news does not sit well. The concern is that they will either have to buy the new dicamba-resistant seeds or risk losing their livelihood altogether.(21)

To make matters worse, Monsanto has blamed farmers for the problems they have experienced with dicamba. Monsanto’s executives have insisted “the people who sprayed dicamba were just learning how to do it properly and didn’t follow directions.”(22)

In other instances, Monsanto has said, “Farmers or pesticide applicators sprayed dicamba too close to neighboring fields, didn’t clean out their equipment properly or used the wrong nozzles.”(23)

However, researchers have said they have conducted studies in the field and evaluated firsthand the damage to crops. They believe Monsanto misled people about these dicamba formulations. Monsanto’s dicamba products are considerably more volatile than Monsanto led famers to believe, according to the researchers.(24)

EPA Toughens Dicamba Regulations

After millions of crops were damaged by dicamba in 2017, complaints from farmers poured in to local and federal governments. In response, the EPA toughened its dicamba regulations.(25) Farmers continued to file complaints.

This resulted in manufacturers changing their product labels every year dicamba has been approved for in-crop use. The goal is to minimize potential damage to crops.(26)

According to Agweek, Andrew Thostenson, a North Dakota State University Extension Service pesticide application specialist, “called the 2018 adjustment on rules of applying a herbicide is unprecedented.” Mr. Thostenson continued, “’I’ve been in this business 30-plus years. I have never seen anything like this in my entire lifetime. Every time I think I’ve seen everything, dicamba proves me wrong. Three labels in three years is astonishing to me.’” He believes there even could be a fourth label change in 2020.(27)

Monsanto and BASF “have acknowledged that the new products – while less volatile than the old ones – are still volatile, but have said the situation is more complicated.”(28)

Dicamba Lawsuits Against Monsanto on the Rise

Ward Black Law is filing lawsuits claiming that the products containing the new formulations of dicamba are defective, either in their design or formulation. Because of these defects, these products with dicamba are not fit or safe for their intended purpose.

When farmers apply Monsanto’s dicamba-containing products, they run the risk of causing serious damage to other farmers’ crops. Several products are being named in the suits and may include XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan.

These products are defective and unsafe because they are volatile and may move off target, landing where they were not applied.

Our lawsuits claim that Monsanto manufactured, promoted, and sold formulations of dicamba knowing they were capable of drifting and becoming volatile. We believe that by its actions, Monsanto acted recklessly and should compensate farmers appropriately.

In addition, our lawsuits plan to hold Monsanto accountable for failing to warn farmers adequately about the dangers of its dicamba-containing products. The instructions for use were also inadequate.

We claim that Monsanto did not test its new dicamba formulations sufficiently. If the company had done comprehensive testing, it would have discovered its dicamba-containing products were potentially highly volatile and dangerous.

In addition, our suits allege that Monsanto misrepresented its dicamba-containing products, which is fraud. We believe that Monsanto was more interested in selling its products and making a profit than in promoting its dicamba-containing products honestly and responsibly.

If your crops were damaged by the drifting, volatile herbicide dicamba, you may be entitled to compensation. We encourage you to contact Ward Black Law for a free case review at (336) 333-2244 or (800) 531-9191 or by email at info@wardblacklaw.com.

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