Arkansas faces a tough task in taking on the chemical giant from neighboring Missouri. Loaded with lawyers, Monsanto has used its legal army (which includes former Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas as well as employees of the EPA) to sue more than 100 American farmers, and it has never lost against them. Though this case is admittedly somewhat different.
The Monsanto lawsuit is attempting to block the Arkansas State Plant Board from prohibiting the use of Monsanto’s dicamba herbicides. Arkansas wants them banned during summer. The poisons are meant to be sprayed on GMO soybeans and cotton. Monsanto genetically modifies staple money plants like soy, cotton, and corn; so that they become resistant to Monsanto-patented poisons like Roundup and dicamba. But dicamba has caused some serious problems for neighboring farmers and residents.
Farmers across America’s farm belt said in summer 2017 that dicamba drifted onto areas beyond where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of crops that were not genetically engineered to absorb and tolerate the herbicides. Poison experts say dicamba is likely to vaporize in high temperatures in a process known as volatility.
Monsanto blames Farmers
Companies like Monsanto selling the herbicide/pesticide poisons have blamed the crop damage on farmers they say are misusing dicamba. Farmers, in turn, have responded by saying the dicamba directions are nearly impossible to follow. Farmers suffering possible damages from lawsuits against them for dicamba drift have also said Monsanto sold them the seeds meant to be sprayed with dicamba, but failed to sell them the latest formulation of dicamba. In some cases, Monsanto sold them seeds before the dicamba formulation meant to go with them had not yet been approved by the U.S. EPA.
To prevent damage, the Arkansas plant board proposed at a September 2017 meeting to limit or stop dicamba spraying. That put Arkansas one step away from banning dicamba sprayings after April 15, 2018.
Monsanto wants its own studies made evidence
Monsanto argued in its latest lawsuit that the Arkansas board did not review 14 studies on volatility Monsanto submitted at the meeting. Monsanto’s own studies virtually always exonerate Monsanto products, despite what independent studies find. But Monsanto did not mention that fact in its lawsuit. Most likely the Arkansas board was not interested in studies performed by a company with vested interests in the outcomes. It was looking at what was happening on the ground, at millions of acres of crop damage seen firsthand and reported by experienced farmers.
Monsanto’s lawsuit said that the Arkansas board’s action hurt Monsanto and its dicamba herbicide brand through the loss of direct sales and indirect business through distribution and licensing agreements. Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy for Monsanto, claimed, “The plant board’s action disadvantages Arkansas farmers.”
Director of Arkansas’ plant board, Terry Walker, said in October that he had not seen Monsanto’s lawsuit, and he declined to comment.
Arkansas previously forbid farmers from using Monsanto’s dicamba herbicide, called XtendiMax with VaporGrip, in 2017. Arkansas did allow sales of a version made by Monsanto’s rival BASF SE.
The U.S. EPA approved use of the herbicide poisons on crops that had emerged from the ground only through next year. It could stop sprayings after 2018 if farmers suffer another year of damage.
Monsanto sues Arkansas for Dicamba Ban
The case is Monsanto Co v Arkansas State Plant Board et al, Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas, No. CV-17-5964.