UPDATED: Monsanto Cites Bias, Lack of Science in Arkansas Dicamba Ban

September 7, 2017 04:26 PM

Thursday Monsanto petitioned the Arkansas Plant Board to reject the Arkansas Dicamba Task Force’s recommendation to ban spraying dicamba products after April 15. The company says this ban and others passed by the state don’t stand on sound science and are influenced by bias.

“What we saw was a recommendation not based in true science or in fact,” says Scott Partridge, Monsanto vice president of global strategy in an interview with AgWeb. “For the state of Arkansas to ban our product [referring to the total ban on Xtendimax and FeXapan this past season] and to take it out of the hands of farmers caused problems with off target movement from off label use of older formulations.”

Monsanto says in its petition that the Task Force’s recommendation should be rejected for these reasons:

  • The recommended ban is not based on scientific data, much less on any scientific consensus, but instead on unsubstantiated product theories not supported by empirical or modeled data
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with the technology when used according to the label, as evident in successful use this season
  • The state hasn’t found the actual causes of the cases of dicamba symptomology reports in the affected eight-county area in the state and has therefore not tailored recommendations based on actual cause
  • Weed scientists in affected counties say mild symptomology that was reported is unlikely to produce much, if any, yield reduction
  • This recommendation is short sighted and ignores how soybean yields can be reduced from the promotion of additional weed resistance
  • There is bias in the recommendations because of the involvement of someone who is serving as an expert witness against Monsanto in dicamba-related litigation and acts as a paid consultant for Bayer and because of the involvement of another researcher who endorses a competing product

The Plant Board indicated the lack of research from the University of Arkansas was a factor in the 2017 ban and the proposed 2018 ban. 

"We didn't recommend a ban forever, but a ban for the 2018 crop to perform more testing," says Shawn Peebles, member of the Arkansas Dicamba Task Force and organic farmer in the state. "We expect to see University to perform volatility testing next year."

Monsanto’s Partridge says Extension didn’t test the product for volatility because the VaporGrip element wasn’t discovered until later in the process and the company needed to move quickly.

“There is no regulation that requires academic testing,” Partridge adds. “It’s being done now.”

The company says there is a 99% success rate with the product, excluding Arkansas, and that the 1% with problems were the result of self-reported violations of the label.

Dicamba Task Force members disagree with the allegation that there was bias and lack of science in their recommendation. 

"I feel the research was done correctly and the Extension researchers weren't pushing any specific product," Peebles says. "As far as bias, there was nothing presented to the task force that showed a bias for another product."

The Arkansas Plant Board is aware of and has received the petition from Monsanto and will review it in their September 12 Pesticide Committee meeting and again September 21 at the full State Plant Board meeting.

“Board members are working diligently to review all dicamba-related recommendations and research to make the best decision on possible rules and regulations for dicamba use in 2018,” according to the Plant Board statement.

*This article has been updated to include quotes from Arkansas Dicamba Task Force member Shawn Peebles.

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Spell Check

West Union , IL
9/13/2017 09:33 AM

  We appreciate all of the University weed scientists, researchers, and boards efforts to shed light on this abomination of the American farmer by Monsanto. It amazes and overwhelms me that any farmer could support a herbicide that has the potential to damage a fellow neighbors crop. Research shows that these chemicals end up wherever a temperature inversion takes them which should not be acceptable to anyone! We plant all Liberty beans and grow seed beans for Pioneer and Syngenta. This technology has been flawless on weed control, stays where you spray it, and user friendly when cleaning the sprayer. The use of Dicamba is a direct threat to this technology as it moves off target and damages Liberty beans. A neighbor sprayed 20 acres of Xtend beans and it "extended" into our 130 acres of Liberty seed beans making them worthless for seed. That 130 acres would have planted over 8,000 acres in 2018. We ended up with Dicamba damage on over 30% of our beans--so this technology is not farmer friendly and what other plants and animals are affected by its movement? We look forward to the release of Enlist beans which will provide a technology that is stable, sprayer friendly, and has excellent weed control. Meanwhile we don't accept that Monsanto should expect to get another year to experiment with Dicamba herbicide as they did this year.

Douglas Street
Newton, KS
9/8/2017 02:44 PM

  'critical tool' is another way to say 'poison the public'.

Shawn Peebles
McCrory, AR
9/7/2017 07:38 PM

  As a task force member and a member of the USDA Specialty Crop Committee, I have researched the data, field trials and discussed all options. Jason Norsworthy nor anyone else made any recommendations of using any other products. Monsanto presented us their research and never had a single test plot larger than a few acres. Air Loading will and did occur because of the number of acres sprayed with a volatile product. What Monsanto purposely did was open Pandora's box hoping that it couldn't be closed so that even farms that didn't want to plant dicamba beans would simply do so out of feer of crop loss. No one on the state plant board or the task force had any other motive than what they felt was the best, safest route for agriculture in Arkansas. Let me ask you, have you ever heard of someone being killed by an off target product being sprayed in Arkansas? Ask Mike Wallace's widow that. Monsanto should be on trial for murder as well as the man who pulled the trigger. It might seem harsh, but this company has every intention of destroying every crop but their own.


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