One of the characteristics that has limited 2,4-D use in the past is that it will injure or kill many broad-leafed crops, including cotton, soybeans, tomatoes, roses, grapes, fruit trees, and many other home garden crops. It does not have a history of safe use, but rather of one drift accident after another. According to a story in the Des Moines Register
, drift from 2,4-D used by farmers after World War II is one of the reasons the Midwest lost its grape industry. More recently, Wisconsin grape growers
have lost vineyards to 2,4-D drift, and 250,000 acres of Arkansas cotton
were damaged by 2,4-D drift in 2012. In California, 15,000 acres of the San Joaquin Valley
were accidentally treated with a fog of 2,4-D in the same year.
In home gardens, herbicide drift damage can occur when a neighbor has their lawn treated with herbicides containing 2,4-D, including granular products. In addition to droplets carried on the wind, damage can occur when the herbicide vaporizes and a persistent chemical cloud forms close to the ground. This is what happened last year to organic farmer Will Reed
in Tupelo, Miss., who lost his heirloom tomato crop to herbicide drift that came out of nowhere.
Damage to home gardens from herbicide drift is common enough to merit bulletins from numerous state extension service offices, though gardeners have little hope of recovering their losses. As explained in this advisory from the University of Minnesota
, “The ‘garden variety’ dispute between neighbors is usually not taken through the trial and appeal process, because of the financial realities of paying for lawyers, expert witnesses, scientific analysis, and other litigation costs.” There are no public resources for residue testing, which can cost $100 to $300 per sample. Tired of being put in this no-win situation, Iowa
farmers who don’t want herbicides drifting onto their land are arming themselves with “drift catchers” that capture air samples for analysis.
Rather than forcing organic gardeners and farmers to defend themselves against 2,4-D drift, the USDA needs to change its priorities, get out of bed with Big Ag, and start working to protect our environment and help farmers farm without poisons. Do you feel the push to do something, to share your opinions on GM food crops and ever-present pesticides? You have until midnight on February 24, 2014, to make your voice heard
on the deregulation of genetically modified crops that tolerate treatment with 2,4-D. The only thing that will overcome the pressure from chemical companies will be greater pressure from you, the public.