An American farm is as much of a marvel of modern chemistry as it is of Mother Nature. This time of year, the landscapes across states like Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas are commanded by verdant fields of billowing corn and low-slung bushes growing soy. The crops’ successes can be attributed to the soils and the rains, of course. But for better or worse, we’ve also got synthetic fertilizers made from natural gas, insecticides designed to stop voracious critters, and weed killers like 3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid (better known as dicamba) to thank for the bounty.
But the relationship between plant and chemical has grown volatile. According to research out of the University of Missouri, dicamba is has harmed more than 3 million acres of soybeans in more than 1,400 separate incidents, across 20 states. Are we planting the seeds of our own demise?