Below is the open letter Steve Smith, Chairman of the Save Our Crops Coalition sent to Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of the Monsanto Company on August 9, 2016:
Dear Mr. Hugh Grant,
When Monsanto’s Xtend soybeans and cotton were approved for planting this season, it was understood that over-the-top applications of dicamba were expressly prohibited until dicamba was labeled for use on these crops. However, over the course of the summer, there has been a flood of reports of drift and/or volatility incidents and crop loss, throughout the country, related to the use of dicamba on Monsanto’s Xtend soybeans and cotton. Even in Monsanto’s own backyard, the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Pesticide Control is conducting investigations of more than 100 complaints in four southeast Missouri counties.
The Save Our Crops Coalition (SOCC) has, since its inception, repeatedly warned of the potential for dicamba to drift and volatilize when applied later in the growing season. Such drift incidents have confirmed what SOCC had already suspected –
- That unscrupulous applicators will apply non-labeled generic forms of dicamba that are prone to off-target movement if such generic forms cost less, and,
- That dicamba application later and later in the growing season is especially hazardous given dicamba’s propensity to volatilize and drift as temperatures rise.
Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that Monsanto created this problem by selling Xtend soybeans and cotton, before lower volatility dicamba products were made available to applicators. Our fear is that this single, devastating mistake will be only be compounded by further mistakes that Monsanto seems eager to make.
For instance, Monsanto has still not received residue tolerances for dicamba for crops grown in close proximity to dicamba tolerant crops, prior to registration of its Xtend herbicide. As a result, upon full introduction of the dicamba tolerant cropping system, crops such as tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash will have no dicamba residue tolerances. Thus, as you probably know, if even minute qualities of dicamba are discovered on crops without a tolerance, such crops must be destroyed – causing drastic losses to growers and processors.
Whether Monsanto has a legal duty to the growers and processors whose crops were destroyed is not for me to decide. What I do know is that Monsanto has a moral duty to American agriculture to see that any damage related to the use of its products is mitigated to the fullest extent possible.
At every opportunity, SOCC has presented its case to Monsanto’s usually very capable personnel. Unfortunately, either because of inertia or intransigence, such personnel have found reasons not to deal with the problems that are clearly visible on our horizon. For this reason, I must elevate my concerns to you – the CEO.
SOCC is eager to finally resolve these issues. If you are not aware, SOCC has a history of working constructively with biotechnology providers to address such concerns. On September 11, 2012, SOCC announced the successful conclusion of discussions with Dow AgroSciences regarding its 2,4-D tolerant cropping system. SOCC’s agreement with Dow was the product of two parties, which had been at loggerheads, attempting to broker a solution that would benefit all of American agriculture.
If we treat these drift incidents and crop losses as an opportunity to begin a dialogue, we believe SOCC and Monsanto can work together to achieve a lasting solution that will deliver on Monsanto’s promise of “a sustainable agriculture.”
Chairman, Save Our Crops Coalition