The damage here in northeast Arkansas and across the Midwest - sickly soybeans, trees and other crops - has become emblematic of a deepening crisis in American agriculture. Farmers are locked in an arms race between ever-stronger weeds and ever-stronger weed killers. The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide - used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean - promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers. The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics contend that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.
Farmers in Arkansas and Missouri have filed more than 100 complaints with state agriculture agencies over a toxic weed killer that is drifting from adjacent farms and damaging their crops. The herbicide is not only stunting the growth of soybeans – it's also being used illegally. As National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal reported, farmers say the chemical, known as dicamba, is being illegally sprayed by neighboring farms growing genetically modified crops from seeds created and sold by Monsanto, known as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend.
A 2015 study was published looking at the effects of three widely used herbicides on disease-causing bacteria and their susceptibility to antibiotics. The three herbicides are dicamba, 2,4-D (recently approved by the U.S. EPA), and glyphosate. In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, they researches found that these popular herbicides affected the bacteria responded to antibiotics, often developing a resistance to them.