As the state of Indiana joins Arkansas and other states in restricting the use and sale of dicamba and the issue is setting neighbors against each other in farming communities, Monsanto is enjoying a surprise jump in its profits, driven largely by increased sale of GMO corn and soy seeds.
This rise comes in spite of an onslaught of legal action over the company’s products and a refusal from weed scientists who turned down an invitation from the agribusiness giant to attend a “summit” last month in an attempt to win their support for dicamba.
To date, most of the crop damage has occurred in Arkansas and Missouri, where dicamba sprayed on GMO soybeans evaporated and drifted over to neighboring fields, destroying non-GMO crops and other plants. Last month’s “summit” was intended to show weed scientists from those states that the damage was due to improper use of the product according to Monsanto’s complicated and confusing instructions (which farmers say are “nearly impossible” to follow).
Missouri recently lifted a total ban on dicamba, but regulations still prohibit farmers from using older formulations, violations of which carry a $10,000 fine. Meanwhile, the Indiana Pesticide Board has submitted a rule restricting dicamba use to the state’s Attorney General for approval, and complaints of dicamba-related damage are on the rise in Iowa. To date, there are over 2,200 dicamba-related investigations currently being carried out in 19 states across the upper Midwest and southern regions.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the dicamba controversy is how it has been pitting farmers against one another, dividing communities and causing a loss of trust between long-time friends and neighbors and – in one case – resulting in violence. The bone of contention: who should pay for the crop damage.
None of this matters to Monsanto, which recently posted a quarterly profit of $20 million, due to growing revenue from its genetically-engineered corn and soybean seeds. Despite dicamba-related damage that has affected over 3 million acres from Nebraska to North Carolina and Louisiana to Minnesota, the Wall Street Journal reports that the harvest of these crops will be “larger than expected.”
While Monsanto continues business as usual here in the U.S., the company is running into some problems with E.U. regulators over its proposed sale to Bayer AG, which many farmers and lawmakers here at home fear will reduce competition, causing a rise in farm expenses – and ultimately, higher food prices for consumers. The European Parliament is also calling Monsanto to the carpet over the herbicide glyphosate, citing a long-time pattern of deception and suppression of scientific evidence over the chemical’s health dangers.