Monsanto

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media file photo

A company that makes dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton wants to expand use of the controversial weed killer to corn. But critics and experts questioning the logic of the petition.

A federal jury in San Francisco has unanimously decided that Bayer AG’s weed killer Roundup caused a California resident to develop cancer.

Edwin Hardeman alleged in his suit that using the herbicide over three decades on his properties caused him to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. His lawsuit is the first federal court case against Bayer’s Roundup and could predict the outcome of hundreds of cases that the company faces for similar claims. Bayer bought St. Louis-based Monsanto, maker of Roundup, last year.

Mike Hayes and I are sitting on the patio of Blue Bank Resort, the business he owns on Reelfoot Lake, in Tennessee. The sun is going down. It's beautiful.

What really catches your eye here is the cypress trees. They line the lake, and thousands of them are standing right in the water. Hayes tells me that they are more than 200 years old.

Madelyn Beck / Harvest Public Media

Farmers in a federal class-action lawsuit filed two main complaints this week against agro-chemical giants Monsanto and BASF regarding the herbicide dicamba, which is blamed for millions of acres of crop damage, especially to soybeans, over the last couple years.

Writing that "a reasonable jury could conclude" that the herbicide in Monsanto's Roundup can cause a form of cancer, a federal judge says liability lawsuits against the company should proceed, siding with plaintiffs against an effort to quash the litigation. But the judge also said some of the expert opinions presented so far in the case are "shaky."

The lawsuits allege that glyphosate, the herbicide in the widely used Roundup, can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — and that Monsanto didn't warn consumers or regulators about that alleged risk.

Monsanto, a company based in St. Louis for more than 100 years, is now part of Bayer.

The roughly $63-billion acquisition closed Thursday, nearly two years after the companies first announced the deal. Regulators in Canada and Mexico were among the last international watchdogs to approve the combination.

The U.S. Department of Justice signed off on it late last month after Bayer committed to shedding about $9 billion in several areas to chemical giant BASF.

That includes Bayer's Liberty-brand herbicides, which compete with Monsanto's Roundup.

Originally, it was just a name — Olga Monsanto's name, to be precise.

Around the turn of the 20th century, she married a man named John Francis Queeny. He named his artificial sweetener company after her. And over decades, that company expanded from the sweetness business into agri-chemicals, where it began to dominate the industry.

Dicamba-resistant soybeans sit in a field in rural McLean County, Illinois, in August.
Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting file photo

Lawsuits filed in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri against the makers of the herbicide dicamba will be centralized in the federal court in St. Louis.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Ligitation decided Thursday to centralize the 11 cases, which allege the herbicide caused significant damage to soybean crops. 

Arkansas Poised To Ban Dicamba Weedkiller

Sep 24, 2017
A soybean field in Jasper County, Iowa, in 2016
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Regulators in Arkansas have proposed to effectively ban farmers from using a controversial weedkiller produced by Monsanto that is thought to be destroying crops after drifting in the wind.

The Arkansas State Plant Board proposed a ban on using the herbicide dicamba on cotton and soybeans from April 16 to October 31, essentially the entire growing season. (PDF)

Genetically engineered cotton seeds delivered to Missouri farmers in 2015 featured a warning not to spray them with dicamba. The corresponding dicamba herbicide was not approved by regulators until 2017.
File: Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The herbicide dicamba is thought to have been the culprit in more than 3 million acres of damaged soybeans across the country, destroying plants and leaving farmers out millions of dollars in crops.

The chemical has been in use for decades, so why is it today apparently causing farms so much damage?

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