Updated at 5:30 p.m. with Monsanto comment — The Missouri Department of Agriculture halted the sale or use of any products containing the Monsanto-made herbicide Dicamba on Friday afternoon.
In a news release, the department said that all products that contain Dicamba and are labeled for agricultural use won’t be sold. The use of the product could bring penalties, the state said.
The agency said that it had received more than 130 “pesticide drift complaints” this year from people who did not put the herbicide on their crops. Already, farmers in 10 states — Missouri and neighboring Arkansas included — have sued Monsanto for seed damage that they attribute to the pesticide.
St. Louis-based Monsanto said in a statement that it's concerned about potential crop injury and is complying with the state's order. It also said it "spent years" developing the 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," the statement said.
Missouri's agriculture director, Chris Chinn, said the ban is meant to "protect farmers and their livelihoods."
"At the same time, my commitment to technology and innovation in agriculture is unwavering,” she said. “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.”
The Missouri Farm Bureau said in a statement that there are “no good answers, no easy solutions” to the problem of herbicide drift. President Blake Hurst also said that it’s “incumbent on the companies active in this market to work with the (agriculture department) to find a way forward that protects both farmers at risk of losing their crops to weed infestation and those farmers' neighbors.”
Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill in February to strengthen penalties for herbicide misuse in Missouri.