Organic stakeholders are encouraged to comment on the petition, which can be found here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/biotechnology/brs-news-and-information/2020_brs_news/monstanto_corn_050820
In 2015, Monsanto sought deregulation of dicamba tolerant bean and cotton varieties marketed to farmers as the solution to the increasing glyphosate resistance of weeds like Palmer Amaranth.
While the new dicamba tolerant crops were certainly a way for Monsanto to market additional herbicides to farmers, they quickly became the source of much headache and heartache for organic & specialty crop farmers.
Since 2015, the organic & specialty crop communities have experienced a drammatic uptick in incidences of crop damage due to the volatilization of dicamba–a process where the herbicide can evaporate off the targeted field, and then settle again like dew on another field miles away, severely damaging or even totally killing the crop there.
The de-regulation of yet more dicamba tolerant crops will doubtless increase the number of farmers who must endure the damage caused by dicamba drift and the inevitable visits with state inspectors and crop insurance adjusters that follow. For farmers of specialty crops like orchard fruits, nut crops, and berries, which may require huge initial investments and may take years to bear, the consequences can be devastating.
Monsanto is required to seek regulatory approval from the USDA for the release of new genetically modified (GM) seed varieties in order to ensure that U.S. crops can continue to access foreign markets in countries that aren’t keen on GM technologies that further the practice of chemical farming.
While farmers who’ve been hurt by dicamba might be the most apt to comment on Monsanto’s petition, buyers and processors must also strongly object to the continued proliferation of GM seed varieties with herbicide product tie-ins if objections against this petition and others are to amount to anything.
The USDA is interested in the economic impact of deregulated herbicide tolerant seed varieties, and if farmers, buyers, and processors present a united front down the supply chain, it may sway opinions. As consumers in the U.S. and abroad demand the increased availability of organic and non-GMO food sources, including non-GMO diets for meat animals, the message that weeds must be dealt with in another way may finally prevail. After all, money talks.
Organic stakeholders can track, read, and comment on current de-regulation petitions here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/biotechnology/brs-news-and-information/2020_brs_news/monstanto_corn_050820
For information on how organic certification agencies must handle dicamba volatilization and other spray drift incidents on organic farms, click here: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/2613.pdf
Read more about the factors influencing dicamba volatilization here: https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/blog/bob-hartzler/factors-influencing-dicamba-volatility