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

On July 7, 2017, officials in Arkansas and Missouri enacted a temporary ban on dicamba, the herbicide blamed for vaporizing and damaging crops which have not been genetically engineered to withstand the weedkiller. The Arkansas Plant Board had voted June 23, 2017 to temporarily ban the spraying of dicamba on any crops except pasture land for 120 days. [1]

The newest ban, set to start July 11, 2017, extends the 120-day moratorium.

The bans come as complaints about suspected dicamba drift continue to snowball. More than 130 cases of dicamba drift have already been reported in Missouri this year, eclipsing last year’s totals, which resulted in heavy crop losses for farmers in the Bootheel region of the southeastern part of the state.

Source: Ohio State University

Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn announced in a July 7 news release that, effective immediately, sales and on-farm use of dicamba products would be suspended. The Missouri Department of Agriculture said the move is being made “with an abundance of caution and is temporary until a more permanent solution is reached.”

Chinn said in the release:

“We want to protect farmers and their livelihoods. At the same time, my commitment to technology and innovation in agriculture is unwavering. That’s why I am asking the makers of these approved post-emergent products, researchers and farmers to work with us to determine how we can allow applications to resume this growing season, under certain agreed upon conditions.”

Read: Monsanto’s Creation of Herbicide-Resistant Superweeds Grows in Several States

In Missouri, dicamba drift damaged nearly 45,000 acres of crops, including soybeans, commercial tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, pumpkins, and residential trees and gardens. According to the Missouri Soybean Association, that’s too conservative, by far. The group estimates that 200,000 acres of soybean crops have been damaged by dicamba. [1] [2]

In 2016, Missouri’s largest peach grower, Bader Farms, sued Monsanto, one of the manufacturers of dicamba, alleging the herbicide caused extensive damage to the farm’s peach trees over the previous 2 years.

Monsanto released a statement saying the biochemical company is complying with the Missouri order, and encourage “all growers, retailers, and distributors to do the same.” [2]

It goes on to say:

“We spent years developing the XtendMax with VaporGrip Technology to minimize the potential for off-site movement. We want to stress how important it is that growers and applicators who use our product follow the label requirements and any local requirements. Monsanto is committed to remaining actively engaged in this conversation and doing our part to help farmers use the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System successfully.”

No dicamba products have been approved for use in Arkansas, but some farmers applied the herbicide illegally.

About the Arkansas ban, Monsanto said:

“We sympathize with any farmers experiencing crop injury, but the decision to ban dicamba in Arkansas was premature since the causes of any crop injury have not been fully investigated. While we do not sell dicamba products in Arkansas, we are concerned this abrupt decision in the middle of a growing season will negatively impact many farmers in Arkansas.”


[1] St. Louis Post-Dispatch

[2] GMWatch

Ohio State University

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Adverse Effects from Personal Care Products Climb 300% in 2016

Reports of side effects caused by cosmetics and personal care products sold in the U.S. more than doubled in 2016, and that’s partly due to complaints about WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing conditioners, according to recent study. [1]

Researchers looked at data on side effects reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2004-2016 for products including makeup, sunscreen, tattoos, hair color, perfume, shaving creams, and baby care items. A total of 5,144 adverse events were reported to the agency during that time, with an average of 396 a year, the team writes in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Source: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Side effect reports skyrocketed from 78 to 706 in 2015, and there was a huge 300% spike to 1,591 adverse events in 2016, due in large part to complaints concerning WEN products.

In 2014, the FDA announced it was investigating WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners after receiving reports that the products cause hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash. The agency had received 1,386 complaints as of November 2016. [2]

Read: 5 Toxic Ingredients Probably Found in Your Shampoo

Through that investigation, the health regulator discovered that Chaz Dean Inc. and parent company Guthy Renker LLC had been buried in more than 21,000 complaints. It didn’t matter, though; companies are not currently required by law to report complaints.

The FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetic products, and companies can launch products without the agency’s approval.

In an e-mail, the FDA said:

“The law does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information, including consumer complaints, with the FDA. FDA’s data on cosmetic adverse events are limited because reporting is voluntary. The FDA may take regulatory action against cosmetics on the market that do not comply with the laws we enforce, if we have reliable information indicating that a cosmetic is adulterated or misbranded.”

If you wind up losing clumps of hair after using a particular product, complaining to the manufacturer may or may not get you results.

Read: 4 Solutions for Naturally Healthy Skin from the Inside-Out

Dr. Shuai Xu, a dermatology researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said:

“Adverse events to cosmetics matter to patients mostly because nearly everyone uses a cosmetic or personal care product every single day – this includes newborns, infants and pregnant women. Unlike drugs and medical devices, cosmetics permeate daily life. We’re exposed to hundreds of chemicals a day from these products.”

Source: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

And, he said, there are likely far more adverse events caused by cosmetics and personal care products than is represented by the findings.

“These numbers are likely underreported. We need better reporting, from both consumers and clinicians. Broadly, the hope of our paper was to continue this discussion to modernize and expand the collection of data about personal care products. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, was our key point.”

Xu says most cosmetic and personal care products are safe, but it’s hard proving that the “bad” ones are truly unsafe.

“When it comes to cosmetics on the shelves that are dangerous, it’s very hard to prove. In general, cosmetics are a very safe product class.”

The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) said in a statement that it “believes that mandatory adverse event reporting is critically important, which is why we have long advocated for it on Capitol Hill.”

PCPC adds:

“Nevertheless, despite the recent increase in reporting, the fact remains that only a very small percentage of cosmetics products on the market are associated with adverse events. And of those, a fraction are listed as ‘serious.’

“In other words, even with the increase, adverse reactions associated with cosmetics and personal care products are extremely rare.”

But if the numbers are inaccurate, how can we really know?


[1] Reuters

[2] CNN

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

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Arkansas Temporarily Bans the Sale and Use of Dicamba Herbicide

After hundreds of Arkansas farmers claimed their crops had been harmed by the weed-killer dicamba, which was sprayed on neighboring fields, the Arkansas Plant Board voted June 23, 2017, to impose an unprecedented ban on the herbicide.

David Hundley, who manages grain production for Ozark Mountain Poultry in the town of Bay, said:

“It’s fracturing the agricultural community. You either have to choose to be on the side of using the product, or on the side of being damaged by the product.”

Monsanto created dicamba-resistant soy beans and cotton plants several years ago, but the chemical itself wasn’t a practical option for farmers prior to that.

Dicamba killed the weeds threatening the crops, all while leaving the soybeans unharmed, and farmers thought they’d finally found the answer to a devastating weed called pigweed (Palmer amaranth). Out of desperation to beat back the weeds, some farmers started spraying dicamba illegally, before it was approved for use.

But dicamba drifts easily in the wind, and it can land on and damage other crops. Non-GMO soybeans are especially susceptible to it. The herbicide can also damage fruit and vegetable farms, and ornamental trees. Dicamba was great news for farmers of GMO crops, but a nightmare for farmers that plant non-GMO seeds. [1] [2]

Read: Study: Dicamba Herbicide Chemicals DO Harm Non-Targeted Plants and Insects

Bob Scott, a specialist on weeds with the University of Arkansas’ agricultural extension service, said:

“Nobody was quite prepared, despite extensive training, for just how sensitive beans were to dicamba.” [1]

Earlier in 2017, a group of farmers filed a class-action lawsuit against the makers of dicamba – Monsanto and German chemical company BASF – over damage to their crops. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for damage to crops, fruits and trees that weren’t dicamba-resistant.

BASF is the only company that makes dicamba approved for use in the United States. [2]

Farmers in Arkansas began registering their displeasure as soon as Spring rolled in. By June 23, some 242 complaints had been sent to state regulators regarding dicamba-damaged crops. [1]

The problem is clearly worsening; in 2016, the state received just over 2 dozen complaints about dicamba-related crop damage. [2]

Plant board member Terry Fuller after the vote:

“We don’t have an emergency. We have a disaster. It’s damage everywhere you look.”

Also in 2016, Missouri’s largest peach grower sued Monsanto alleging that the company was responsible for illegal herbicide use that the group claimed had caused widespread crop damage in the southeast part of Missouri and neighboring states. Other states eventually joined the suit, including Illinois.

Said Scott:

“This has far eclipsed any previous number of complaints that we’ve gotten, and unfortunately, this number seems to just keep growing. Every day we get an update with 8 or 10 more complaints.” [1]

Hundley said that “any soybean that’s not [resistant to dicamba] is exhibiting damage. I can name 15 farmers within 3 or 4 miles who have damage, and I can only name 3-4 farmers who have used the technology.”

So the Arkansas Plant Board gathered on June 20, 2017, to mull over an emergency ban on further spraying of dicamba, and farmers crowded the meeting to make an impassioned plea for their side.

A bit of procedural confusion at the initial meeting prevented the board from holding a vote that day. The meeting reconvened on June 23, however, and voted, 9-5, to ban any spraying of dicamba on any crops except for pasture land for 120 days.


[1] NPR

[2] U.S. News & World Report

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