As suspected drift from dicamba took a toll on farmers the past two growing seasons, Monsanto — the Creve Coeur-based agribusiness company that helped give the herbicide newfound prominence with its introduction of dicamba-tolerant crop varieties — publicly urged growers not to spray illegal kinds of the product while new formulations supposedly less prone to drift waited for regulatory approval.
But a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis accuses company sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances that using unauthorized or “off-label” spray varieties would be all right.
“This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person,” the suit alleges, based on farmer testimony. “Their sales pitch: assure purchasers that off-label and illegal uses of dicamba would ‘be just fine.’”
That’s one of many allegations in the suit to place blame from soaring complaints of dicamba damage on companies that produce the weedkiller and accompanying seed varieties.
Monsanto, BASF, DuPont and Pioneer are the agribusiness and chemical companies associated with the herbicide named as defendants in the case. Plaintiffs include seven Arkansas farms affected by alleged dicamba drift this year, though more may be added, according to Paul Lesko, a St. Louis-based attorney with Peiffer Rosca Wolf, the law firm representing the plaintiffs.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch