Illegal spraying of a volatile weedkiller may be the cause of unprecedented damage to crops earlier this year, especially for soybean farmers in Arkansas.
Complaints arose this summer from U.S. farmers after an herbicide suited only for genetically modified crops was “drifting” across neighboring fields and leaving a trail of damage. A new version of dicamba, the offending herbicide, that’s supposed to be less mobile is produced by seed and crop-chemical giants Monsanto Co., DowDuPont Inc. and BASF SE. It’s fine for use on acres planted with the modified seeds, but can leave non-resistant plants stunted with wrinkled leaves.
BASF only sold enough of its product to cover about 52 percent of the dicamba-tolerant acres planted in the state, the company said in an email.
The numbers imply that a large quantity of off-label dicamba could have been used to fill the gap, said Chris Perrella, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. Such versions of the herbicide can be highly volatile, meaning the chemical vaporizes and can easily move to neighboring fields.
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