Saturday, October 29, 2016

Herbicide use leads to slaying in Mississippi County UPDATE

Posted By on Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 7:34 AM

DAMAGED BEANS: Photo shows effect of pesticide on soybeans. - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
  • Purdue University
  • DAMAGED BEANS: Photo shows effect of pesticide on soybeans.
KARK reported yesterday the shooting death of a Mississippi County farmer, Mike Wallace of Monette, and the arrest of another farm worker, Allan Jones, in an argument over herbicide drift.

Stephen Steed expanded the reporting on the story in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  He noted that Wallace had complained to the state Plant Board about damage to his soybeans from spraying of dicamba. He apparently met Jones to talk about spraying. Jones reportedly pulled a gun and shot Wallace after Wallace grabbed him. Wallace was not armed.

David Koon wrote on the Arkansas Blog in August about rising complaints about dicamba in the Delta.  Conflicts arise because some farmers have switched to a new dicamba-resistant soybean seed while others have not.

Farmers who aren't yet using Xtend seeds are reporting widespread crop damage to their fields, with area extension agents suggesting it's caused by small amounts of wind-driven dicamba blown over from farms that are illegally using the herbicide in conjunction with dicamba-resistant soybeans to fight pigweed.

Though Monstano is seeking approval of a new version of dicamba that doesn't ride the wind quite so easily, researchers at the University of Arkansas tell NPR that the damage to non-Xtend soybean crops may continue even after the less-vaporous version of the herbicide comes to market. That ongoing threat could force more farmers in the region to buy Xtend seeds next year.
Steed reported a fatal shooting in Kentucky earlier this month was indirectly related to a dispute over use of dicamba.

UPDATE: In a coincidence of timing, the New York Times reported Sunday on questions about the value of genetically modified crops. The article said evidence is lacking about improved yields or a decrease in the use of pesticides.

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