Happy 150th Birthday

If we borrowed a few politicians from Ottawa, Americans might learn we could do all of these things for the amount of money we currently spend in our federal and state budgets. Starting with Universal Health Care. We could get rid of gerrymandered elections. Can’t guarantee we’d win the Stanley Cup with all American-born players, though. Yet.

Arkansas Regulators Vote To Stop An Epidemic Of Herbicide Damage


Dicamba leaf-cupping

❝ Arkansas’s pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical…

The tension — which even led to a farmer’s murder — is over a weedkiller called dicamba. The chemical moved into the weed-control spotlight a few years ago, when Monsanto created soybean and cotton plants that were genetically modified to survive it. Farmers who planted these new seeds could use dicamba to kill weeds without harming those crops…

❝ The problem is, dicamba is a menace to other crops nearby. It drifts easily in the wind, and traditional soybeans are incredibly sensitive to it. “Nobody was quite prepared, despite extensive training, for just how sensitive beans were to dicamba,” says Bob Scott, a specialist on weeds with the University of Arkansas’s agricultural extension service.

❝ As soon as spraying started this spring, the complaints began arriving. By June 23, state regulators had received 242 complaints from farmers who say their crops have been damaged…

On June 20, the Arkansas Plant Board met to consider an emergency ban on further spraying of dicamba, and farmers crowded into the meeting to argue both sides…

At that first meeting, a procedural mix-up prevented the board from holding a valid vote. On June 23, it reconvened and voted, 9-5, to ban any spraying of dicamba on any crops except for pasture land for 120 days. The ban will take effect immediately if the governor of Arkansas signs it.

More and more this sort of solution to weed and pest control appears to be a long-term failure. I don’t know if Monsanto is up for a re-think; but, more and more farmers suffering the “surprises” they keep receiving from Monsanto need to look for alternatives. Not just for dicamba; but, the whole concept of growing crops engineered to be protected from common ills by the saving grace of specific chemicals designed into their genes. I doubt this can ever be a long-term solution.