“In Arkansas, Backlash Against Pesticide Regulation Gets Personal”

“Twice in the past two months, vandals have struck Terry Fuller's farm, destroying tractor engines and burning stacks of hay. Each attack came immediately after Fuller appeared before Arkansas's state legislature on behalf of a state agency that's investigating farmers suspected of illegally using a herbicide called dicamba. Fuller doesn't think it's a coincidence.

Fuller chairs a board of citizen-regulators called the Arkansas State Plant Board. It has imposed some of the country's tightest restrictions on the use of dicamba, a chemical that's provoked intense conflict – including one murder – in farming communities from Mississippi to Minnesota. Some farmers call it an essential weed-killing tool. Others consider it an intolerable agent of destruction, because it tends to evaporate from fields where it's sprayed and move with the wind, damaging other crops and wild vegetation.

Earlier this year, citing dicamba's widespread damage, a court revoked the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of the most important uses of dicamba. But the company Bayer, which created popular varieties of soybeans and cotton that are genetically modified to tolerate dicamba, is asking the EPA to put it back on the market next year.”

Dan Charles reports for NPR September 22, 2020.