Monsanto Ordered to Pay $265 Million for Destroying Peach Farm with its New Herbicide

February 27, 2020 at 6:22 pm

Dicamba is the new Roundup but worse, drifting farther and killing everything except the GM soy and cotton engineered to survive it

Missouri peach farmer Bill Bader says half of his 30,000 trees now produce peaches the “size of a quarter.” Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

A Missouri peach farmer just set an awesome precedent in a court battle against Monsanto’s new dicamba herbicide.

Monsanto’s new dicamba weedkiller was first approved for use in 2017. Since then, it has wreaked havoc on millions of acres of non-GMO crops across America.

The company formulated the herbicide because its infamous Roundup (glyphosate)  stopped working… that is, glyphosate-resistant “super weeds” began to grow.

Thus, a “new and improved” version of an even more toxic herbicide – dicamba – was brought to market under the brand name Xtendimax.

The good news? Xtendimax kills super weeds (for now). The bad news? It kills everything else in its path too, except Monsanto’s soy and cotton plants that have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide.

The main reason it’s so dangerous is because dicamba is far more volatile than glyphosate (Roundup), meaning it easily converts into a gas and “drifts” for miles onto neighboring crops and kills them.

Among those crops were 30,000 peach trees in Missouri.

The owner of the trees, Bill Bader and his family-owned Bader Farms just won $265 million in court as the loss of his orchards essentially put him out of business.

Peaches that grow too small to harvest are left to wither on Bader’s farm. Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

The jury found that the former Monsanto (now Bayer) and chemical giant BASF conspired in creating an “ecological disaster” designed to increase profits at the expense of farmers.

“It’s very sad,” attorney Bill Randles told the Sierra Club. “He’s been the ‘peach guy.’ Now . . . his peach farm cannot survive.”

Peach farmer Bill Bader. Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

The Bader lawsuit is one of many class-action lawsuits blaming dicamba for damage to their orchards, gardens, and organic farm fields, representing complaints by over 2700 farmers.

Monsanto first announced that it would work with BASF on a new dicamba-ready system in 2011,  because its “Roundup Ready system” had led to an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Scientists warned it would threaten farmers growing anything other than Monsanto’s GMO soybeans and cotton. (It’s already destroyed over 3 million acres of soy beans alone.)

Publicly, Monsanto and BASF scoffed at the concerns, but internal communications reveal the companies secretly predicted there would be thousands of complaints about dicamba damage and made plans about how to avoid liability.

The documents exposed the companies bragging about how many cotton and soybean farmers would be forced to buy their patented GMO seeds, not because they needed weed control, but as a defensive measure against herbicide drift.

“They knew they were going to hurt people, and they planned to make money off of it. It is that simple,” Randles said. “There were a lot of documents in which they privately acknowledged the harm they’re causing.”