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Monsanto Faces Class Action Suit Over Dicamba
USAgNet - 07/25/2017

As suspected drift from dicamba took a toll on farmers the past two growing seasons, Monsanto publicly urged growers not to spray illegal kinds of the product while new formulations supposedly less prone to drift waited for regulatory approval.

But a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis accuses company sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances that using unauthorized or 'off-label' spray varieties would be all right, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

"This was Monsanto's real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person," the suit alleges, based on farmer testimony. "Their sales pitch: assure purchasers that off-label and illegal uses of dicamba would be just fine."

That's one of many allegations in the suit to place blame from soaring complaints of dicamba damage on companies that produce the weedkiller and accompanying seed varieties.

Monsanto, BASF, DuPont and Pioneer are the agribusiness and chemical companies associated with the herbicide named as defendants in the case. Plaintiffs include seven Arkansas farms affected by alleged dicamba drift this year, though more may be added, according to Paul Lesko, a St. Louis-based attorney with Peiffer Rosca Wolf, the law firm representing the plaintiffs.

The suit outlines the shifting circumstances that have surrounded suspected dicamba damage since Monsanto first released dicamba-tolerant cotton in 2015 and brought resistant soybeans to market the following year. Corresponding herbicides produced by the defendants weren't available for either growing season, only gaining approval since late 2016. Their absence led many growers with dicamba-tolerant seeds to allegedly turn to more drift-prone -- or volatile -- forms of the herbicide, leaving their fields unharmed but putting nearby growers with nonresistant crops at risk.

But even though the new, proper forms of the herbicide are now available, alleged misuse of dicamba has shot to new heights in 2017. Hundreds of complaints have poured in to state officials in Arkansas and Missouri alone, with reports of other suspected damage emerging in places such as Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana.

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