jury-gets-case-that-claims-dicamba-weedkiller-ruined-missouri-peach-grower’s-orchard

🔥Jury gets case that claims dicamba weedkiller ruined Missouri peach grower’s orchard🔥

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Jury gets case that claims dicamba weedkiller ruined Missouri peach grower’s orchard

Leaves of Bader Farms’ peach trees bear holes and discoloration that owner Bill Bader believes is the result of drift from illegal applications of the herbicide, dicamba, on area farms. Other trees throughout the orchard have branches that are almost entirely denuded. photo by Bryce Gray, bgray@post-dispatch.com

Bryce Gray

CAPE GIRARDEAU — Lawyers made closing arguments Friday morning in a jury trial that will determine whether uncontrolled drift from the weedkiller dicamba has fueled the demise of Missouri’s largest peach farm.The verdict is expected to hold far-reaching implications for a wave of similar litigation that also blames the controversial herbicide for millions of acres of crop damage seen across U.S. farms in recent years, as dicamba has soared to newfound prominence in commercial agriculture.Bayer and BASF, two agribusiness companies whose products have helped push the chemical’s use to new heights, are defendants in the case, and defended the rollout of new dicamba technologies.Defense attorneys say the struggles of the plaintiff’s peach orchards stem from root fungus and adverse weather events, like hail and ice storms, rather than drift from the herbicide. They point to earlier tree losses and challenges the farm faced prior to the 2015 emergence of the new dicamba technology under fire.But plaintiff lawyers for the Campbell, Mo., peach farmer Bill Bader have argued that rampant dicamba damage was a foreseeable consequence of the introduction of 2015 introduction of new crop varieties genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba sprayed over the top of them for weed control.In fact, they argue that the volatile chemical’s tendency to drift and move off-target was a selling point recognized by the companies: Farmers using dicamba spray and seeds that tolerate the chemical were immune from damage, while others nearby risked damage when it didn’t stay in the intended fields.Arguments ended a few minutes after noon, leaving the seven-person jury to begin deliberations.This story will be updated.

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Leaves of Bader Farms’ peach trees bear holes and discoloration that owner Bill Bader believes is the result of drift from illegal applications of the herbicide, dicamba, on area farms. Other trees throughout the orchard have branches that are almost entirely denuded. photo by Bryce Gray, bgray@post-dispatch.com

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