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Organic Consumers Association

Monsanto's GMO Crops Already Planted in North Dakota

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our North Dakota News page.

Early in July, Monsanto rolled out the red carpet for farm media in North Dakota, promoting its new, yet highly controversial, herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Touted at an industry field day in Cass County, these new soybean seeds are designed to be used with the volatile herbicide, dicamba - a close cousin of 2,4-D.

Dicamba-resistant soy is still awaiting USDA approval, as are 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy. And after receiving hundreds of thousands of comments opposing the approval of these crops, the agency recently extended its decision-making timeline. Despite the outcry, however, Monsanto has plowed full speed ahead, planting and spraying these crops in large, field-sized "Ground-Breaker" demonstration plots in North and South Dakota and in research plots in undisclosed locations.

Farmers, as well as other concerned citizens, are particularly worried about pesticide drift, crop damage and health harms that would likely accompany planting and spraying of dicamba- and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Most at risk are fruit, nut and vegetable growers around the country, whose produce is highly susceptible to severe damage from 2,4-D and dicamba - herbicides known to volatilize and drift for miles. In one incident in California's San Joaquin valley, 2,4-D drifted 100 miles from where it was applied, damaging 15,000 acres of cotton and a pomegranate orchard along the way.

Not buying "improvements"

At the field day in July, a Monsanto representative claimed that the corporation was working on a new formulation of dicamba that wouldn't volatilize quite so easily or drift quite so far. The Monsanto employee acknowledged that dicamba residue in sprayer tanks would also be a serious problem, but explained that if growers are "good," "sophisticated" and "rigorous" in following detailed directions about nozzle size, wind speed and cleaning out their sprayers with 45 solid minutes of rinsing after use, then risk of destroying their own or neighbors' crops with inadvertent dicamba exposure could be minimized.

Waiting and watching until winds are precisely between 3 and 10 mph? Not so feasible when you have to schedule a pesticide applicator's visit to your field well in advance. Forty-five minutes of rinsing? That's a lot of water to expect farmers to use, in a time of unpredictable rain and increasing water scarcity. Sounds a lot like a company set-up to blame the farmer as soon as anything goes wrong.              


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