In some parts of the country, the tide is turning against toxic pesticides. The herbicide Dicamba has been temporarily banned in Missouri and Arkansas after hundreds of farmers filed complaints that it was harming their crops. Though the product has been used agriculturally for decades, Dicamba hasn’t technically been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and isn’t legal in every state.
No single chemical company owns the rights to Dicamba, but Monsanto is a major distributor. To promote its use, the company recently began selling Dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean seeds. This allows farmers to spray the herbicide more frequently without putting their crops at risk. But Dicamba will still damage other plants, meaning neighboring farms may lose their harvests unless they also buy resistant seeds. While pesticide drift is a common agricultural problem that usually affects a handful of fields at a time, estimates show that Dicamba alone could affect 2 million acres of cropland every year.
For now, farmer complaints have led to the ban of all Dicamba-based products in Missouri and Arkansas. In these states, farmers who sell or use these products may incur civil penalties. Though legislatures insist the ban is a temporary measure, most agree that it’s unfair for farmers to lose their crops because of the actions of their neighbors.