In an effort to prevent crop damage resulting from off-target exposure to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, a grassroots group of farm interests has announced the organization of the Save Our Crops Coalition. These herbicides have been known to drift and volatilize to cause damage to plants over 10 miles away from the point of application.
Dow AgroScience is seeking deregulation of its genetically engineered corn, soybean and cotton crops that tolerate applications of the 2,4-D herbicide. These crops are expected to herald an unprecedented increase in the use of 2,4-D, a product notorious for damaging plants not targeted for application. In the areas of corn, soybean and cotton production, the threat is substantial to home gardens and specialty crops like tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, peas, squash, pumpkins, melons, grapes and other fruits. Mainstream farmers are worried, and have formed the Save Our Crops Coalition to appropriately engage this regulatory process.
The Save Our Crops Coalition is not opposed to plant technology advances, particularly genetic modification, however it does oppose regulatory actions that would result in herbicide use that causes substantial injury to non-target crops.
"2,4-D drift and volatilization has already become a huge problem on my farm. It has now become an annual occurrence causing significant damage to my farm. Not even the state chemist can determine where this volatilization comes from," said Dave Simmons, a family farmer based in Indiana.
"Our company was decimated by an instance of 2,4-D exposure. We continue to try to regain the confidence of our customer base, but it may never be the same. I have joined this coalition to see that no other specialty crop producer has to endure the devastation that our farm has experienced," said Gary Philips, a tree farmer based in Kentucky.
These farmers' concerns have stirred the support of the vegetable processors they sell to, names like Del Monte, Seneca and Red Gold.
"The potential for a 600% increase in synthetic-auxin herbicide use threatens the survival of the specialty crop production in the Midwest. While we are not opposed to new technology itself, the widespread use of dicamba and 2,4-D is a threat to our business," said Steve Smith of Red Gold, an Indiana-based food processor.