I did a bit more digging into the case of the Missouri peach grower who won a large judgement against Bayer and BASF over it’s dicamba herbicide blend and ran across this item. Bayer markets a dicamba blend called Xtendimax and BASF markets a similar herbicide called Enginia. In addition to a $15 million judgement for actual damage, the jury tacked on $250 million in punitive damages. So the total judgement against the company stands at $265 million. punitive damages are awarded when a jury finds the actions of the defendant to be especially harmful.
They will certainly appeal this case and, like the judgement against Bayer/Monsanto over health problems with it’s glyphosate herbicide, the monetary amounts will almost certainly be reduced by a huge amount on appeal or even thrown out entirely. And even though I dislike dicamba a great deal, even I have to admit that there are some serious issues with this particular case.
There was evidence that trees in the orchard were suffering from Armillaria root rot which could have caused the problems the trees were suffering from. Some testing did indicate the trees were exposed to dicamba, but at a time before Monsanto released its Xtendimax herbicide for use, so how could Monsanto be responsible if the product hadn’t even been released for sale yet?
As with the case where Bayer/Monsanto lost the glyphosate trial, there seem to be some serious problems with this verdict, at least on the surface. I didn’t hear the testimony and didn’t read the entire court transcript, but from what I know now, if I’d been on that jury I don’t know if I would have been able to rule against the company.
But that goes only for this specific case. Dicamba is a nasty, nasty herbicide that vaporizes easily and can drift for miles. There is absolutely no doubt that it has caused millions of dollars in damage because of drifting, despite what the company says. Bayer continues to claim there is no problem with it, and that all of the problems either A) didn’t really happen, B) were due to illegal applications of its product, C) caused by applicators not following application guidelines or D) were due to other plant diseases.