Monday, June 26, 2017

Arkansas would be 1st state to ban weedkiller used with GMO crops, citing drift to non-GMO crops

Arkansas Department of Agriculture
map shows complaints by county
(click on map for larger version)
"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," Dan Charles reports for NPR. The Arkansas Plant Board voted 9-5 Friday to impose "an unprecedented ban" on dicamba, a weedkiller used in conjunction with crops that have been genetically modified to resist it. "It drifts easily in the wind, and traditional soybeans are incredibly sensitive to it," and 242 farmers have complained about it, Charles reports.

Before the ban can become effective, Gov. Asa Hutchinson must submit it to the executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for approval, notes Pam Smith of DTN/The Progressive Farmer: "Hutchinson has followed this issue closely and has sent a task force to visit farmers in areas with heavy dicamba damage." The main threat to crops is pigweed, or Palmer amaranth, which is increasingly resistant to Roundup, the most popular herbicide used with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Bob Scott, a University of Arkansas weed specialist, "isn't sure whether dicamba ever will be a good tool for farmers, because it appears to be so difficult to control, Charles reports. "He also doesn't think the problem will be limited to Arkansas. His state just happened to hit this problem first, because Arkansas's farmers adopted dicamba earlier than those in other states."

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