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‘Buy It or Else’: How Monsanto and BASF Forced a Toxic Weed Killer on Farmers

Internal records show the companies knew crop damage from their weed killer would be extensive. They sold it anyway.

Get poi­soned or get on board.

That’s the choice soy­bean farm­ers such as Will Glazik face. The past few sum­mers, farm­ers near Glazik’s cen­tral Illi­nois farm have sprayed so much of the weed killer dicam­ba at the same time that it has pol­lut­ed the air for hours and some­times days. 

As Glazik puts it, there are two types of soy­beans: Monsanto’s, which are genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered to with­stand dicam­ba, and every­one else’s.

Glazik’s soy­beans have been the dam­aged ones. His soy­bean leaves will curl up, then the plants will become small­er and weak­er. He’s lost as much as 40 bushels an acre in some fields, a huge loss when organ­ic soy­beans are $20 a bushel. He has to hold his breath every year to see if the dam­age will cause him to lose his organ­ic certification. 

His neigh­bors who spray dicam­ba are frus­trat­ed with him, he said. There’s an easy solu­tion to avoid dam­age, they tell him: Buy Monsanto’s seeds.