2017/01/21

There's Blood on Our Food

Manward Digest

Fighting Over Food: The Bloody Consequence of Dicamba

 
Know-How
  
  Rooster's Crow
  We're not here to say companies like Monsanto are evil or that their products should be outlawed. No, our goal is to allow readers to make informed decisions. But one thing is abundantly clear... it's not smart to eat any pesticides or herbicides. That's why, no matter your thoughts on the topic, you must thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables. Here's a simple and effective way to do it. All it takes is a tablespoon of sea salt in a bowl filled with water. Toss in your produce, scrub and rinse. The vast majority of the chemicals will be gone. Easy.
  
In late October, a 55-year-old farmer named Mike Wallace was shot while standing along a rural road in Arkansas.

He died. The shooter went to jail. But many folks say the giant fertilizer company Monsanto is the one with blood on its hands.

It's more proof that it's vital to know where your food comes from.

As we continue our "know your butcher" theme, we learn more about our crops and the people behind them.

Pay attention and you'll be stunned.

The problem lies at Monsanto's giant feet. Most of us have heard about its glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. It's a ubiquitous weed killer that can be found on almost all modern farms. It's an organic farmer's nightmare.

No doubt, the stuff has changed the farming world. It's slashed the cost of weeds and has helped send yields to record highs. But Ma Nature is devious. Many of her weeds are now tolerant of Roundup.

It's a huge issue for farmers... and a costly conundrum for Monsanto.

But the company has done what any good company would do. It's turned the situation into a moneymaker. It's pushing a different product - an updated version of an old herbicide.

This one is called dicamba.

And, oh boy, if you thought Roundup was controversial, dicamba will make you flat-out blush. All sorts of folks should (and likely will) go to jail over this stuff.

A Troublesome Brew

The EPA has its hands full.

Over the last year, it's served search warrants on numerous farms as it investigates illegal uses of dicamba and the thousands upon thousands of acres of crops and wildlands that have been killed by the nasty herbicide's drift.

Farmers say they had no choice. They had to use the stuff.

It's a fair argument. After all, Monsanto released several dicamba-resistant seed lines without - this is big - a safe herbicide to go with them.

Let me explain what that means.

Roundup became so popular over the last few decades because Monsanto modified its seeds to be the only plants in a field that could withstand getting sprayed by the nasty chemical. All farmers have to do is spray their field with Roundup, and the only thing left standing in a week is Monsanto's GMO soybeans or corn.

It worked well.

But now Roundup is finding increased resistance. Monsanto started selling its dicamba-resistant seeds. Again, plant them... spray them... and only the seeds modified to be resistant to dicamba will survive.

The problem is farmers had no safe version of dicamba to use. Instead, they used old versions, and they used them improperly. When used just slightly wrong, the nasty chemical has a tendency to drift. When it does, neighboring nonresistant crops are in big trouble.

(Un)Intended Consequences

Last year, hundreds of thousands of acres of crops were damaged in 10 states because of dicamba drift.

Peaches... tomatoes... watermelons... peanuts... all things none of us expect to get coated with the herbicide were affected.

Again, the fingers point at Monsanto. It sold a product that could be utilized only if farmers turned to illegal methods. The EPA had yet to approve of its supposedly safer dicamba product - FeXapan.

Some say the powerhouse fertilizer did it on purpose - part of a devious marketing plan.

We're not sure. But there's no doubt the plan worked.

Sales are soaring. Just a million acres' worth of Monsanto's dicamba-resistant seeds were planted last year. This year, the figure is expected to reach 15 million.

Farmers feel like they must buy the new seeds. If not, overspray will destroy their crops.

Here's how Bloomberg reported it:
 
For folks like Landon Hayes, who grows earlier-generation soybeans in Campbell, Missouri, the consequences have been costly. He says 500 acres of his crops were damaged this summer by stray wisps of dicamba. And now he feels compelled to buy the engineered Monsanto seeds to avoid injury next season.

"They knew that people would buy it just to protect themselves," Hayes says. "You're pretty well going to have to. It's a good marketing strategy, I guess. It kind of sucks for us."
 
Monsanto claims it went above and beyond its duty. It warned farmers not to spray dicamba illegally.

And yet, as mankind tends to do, folks paid no attention. They had weeds in their field and bills to pay.

The problems spread fast.

And, like we said, the situation got bloody.

Mike Wallace was a victim in two ways. His soybeans were damaged by illegal dicamba spraying. And, when he confronted the folks behind it, he wound up dead... shot by a 26-year-old employee of a farm.

It's more proof that food is big business.

Folks are fighting over it.

Some are going to jail. Some are picking up guns. And some, perhaps the worst of the perpetrators, are going to Washington.

It's our job to be informed eaters.

The next time you go to the grocery... know where your food came from.

There may be blood on it.

Be well,

Andy
 
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