Toxic Weedkiller Dicamba Drift Damages Crops Across America

Roughly 383,000 acres of soybean crops have been injured by the weed-killer dicamba as of June 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys everything it touches, other than the crops that are genetically engineered to withstand it. “Dicamba drift” is a well-known term associated with the herbicide because the chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-targeted fields, stunting plants’ growth, and leaving them wrinkled or cupped.

Non-targeted crops and trees have been harmed by dicamba drift for numerous growing seasons, according to Bradley, who has tracked the damage caused by the weed-killer extensively.

In 2017, Monsanto’s (now Bayer) new dicamba-based herbicide, XtendiMax, was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on the company’s Xtend soybeans and cotton. That growing season, XtendiMax reportedly damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres of off-target crops in more than 2 dozen states.

Many crops were also devastated in 2016 when 10 states reported hundreds of thousands of crop acres damaged by the apparent misuse of older, unapproved versions of dicamba.

The summer of 2018 has fared a bit better, but the damage was still palpable, according to Bradley.

“Many growers in [Missouri] have adopted the Xtend trait so they don’t experience dicamba injury on their soybean crop for a third season in a row. Since the adoption of the Xtend trait is so high in this area, relatively speaking there seem to be fewer soybean fields with injury this year compared to last.

However, just as in the past two seasons, there are still fields of non-Xtend soybean in this area showing injury from one end to the other.

More surprising to me than that has been the extent of the trees that are showing symptoms of growth regulator herbicide injury in that part of the state where the adoption of this trait is so high.”

Compared to 2017, 2018 has seen more cases of off-target movement of the chemical to specialty crops, vegetables, ornamental plants, and trees, said Bradley. [2]

Read: Complaints About Crop Damage Spur Temporary Ban on Dicamba in 2 States

He writes in the report:

“I have personally witnessed this increasing problem of off-target dicamba injury to “other” crops and tree species in the calls I have received, field visits, and “windshield surveys” of Missouri that I have taken the past few weeks, especially when driving around southeast Missouri last week.”

Here are the soybean injury numbers in 2018 (could actually be much more), by acres, in individual states, according to the University of Missouri: [1]

  • Arkansas 100,000
  • Illinois: 150,000
  • Indiana: 5,000
  • Iowa: 1,200
  • Kansas: 100
  • Kentucky: 500
  • Nebraska: 40
  • Missouri: 25,000
  • Mississippi: 100,000
  • Tennessee: 2,000

Sources:

[1] EcoWatch

[2] AgProfessional

PrairieFarmer

Poor Diet Kills More than Cigarettes?! Key Study Shows We’re Eating Ourselves to Death

The Western diet is no longer unique to the United States. Many countries the world over have adopted a diet laden with *excess* salt, fat, sugar, and other health-compromising ingredients. Now, people are literally paying for it with their lives, according to a recently published global study. [1]

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Researchers looked at the eating habits of people from 195 countries to estimate how much poor diets contribute to mortality. They discovered that 11 million people die each year because they consume too many unhealthy foods and skimp on the healthful ones, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Food Takes More Lives than, Er… Cigarettes?

The team wrote in the journal Lancet that poor diet contributes to more global deaths than cigarette smoking.

The study shows that 3 million global deaths could be attributed to excess sodium consumption. Another 3 million deaths were caused by a lack of whole grains, and 2 million more deaths were the result of a lack of adequate fruit consumption.

In 2017, the leading cause of diet-related deaths around the world was cardiovascular disease, followed by certain cancers and diabetes.

Read: Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

The findings show, once again, that a balanced diet is vital to overall health and longevity.

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Marion Nestle, professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said:

“The results are based on limited data and assumptions, but conclusions are consistent with major reports from public health and medical authorities.”

People living in countries where the Mediterranean diet is commonplace scored the best health-wise. The diet emphasizes fish and lean meats, whole grains, olive oil, and lots of fruits and vegetables. This makes sense, as people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease – possibly even as low as those taking statin drugs.

The Results – Where Does Your Country Rank?

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Israel came in first with the least number of diet-related deaths, followed by France and Spain, respectively.

The United States ranked a dismal 43rd.

Ashkan Afshin, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said: [2]

“Generally, the countries that have a diet close to the Mediterranean diet, which has higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils (including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish) are the countries where we see the lowest number of [diet-related] deaths.”

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Bruce Lee, associate professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center, said the research shows that poor diets have become synonymous with non-communicable diseases. Physical inactivity and a variety of other environmental, economic, and social factors also play a role, he said.[1]

“Diet can contribute to noncommunicable disease (NCDs) via increased body weight and obesity, elevated blood pressure, hyperlipidemia or high levels of fat in the blood, and conditions that lead to high blood sugar levels.”

Not Enough to Feed the World?

Lee added that one problem is that:

“…unhealthy foods such as those that are highly processed with artificial ingredients are often cheaper to make, store, ship, and prepare. Therefore, such foods have replaced more natural and healthy foods in food systems around the world.”

But even if everyone in the world suddenly decided to start eating healthily, the current global agricultural system wouldn’t be able to provide enough fruits and vegetables to accommodate the global population, a recent study published in PLOS One shows. [2]

The unfortunate reality is that global initiatives are needed to make sure that healthful foods are available to those seeking to improve their health and diet.

Evan Fraser, the co-author of the study and the director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, remarked:

“We simply can’t all adopt a healthy diet under the current global agricultural system. At a global level, we have a mismatch between what we should be eating, and what we’re producing.”

Sources:

[1] The Washington Post

[2] NPR