Is this ad Hall of Shame worthy?

October 17, 2016 6:26 AM
Blog Post

One of the more popular pages on the old ISU Weed Science website was the Herbicide Ad Hall of Shame. It featured ads that I deemed went against Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles. Recently, two of my colleagues nominated the attached ad that promotes the effectiveness of dicamba in Roundup Ready2 Xtend (RR2 Xtend) soybeans. While I think the ad has serious problems, I don’t believe it blatantly disregards IPM, thus I’m not placing it in the Hall of Shame.

The following are valid concerns regarding the advertisement:1, 2

1) Manufacturers are not allowed to advertise pesticides pending registration by the EPA. Monsanto skirted this rule by using the herbicide common name, dicamba, rather than specifying one of the new dicamba formulations waiting EPA approval (e.g.  XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology). 

2)  The ad fails to state that there are no dicamba products registered for postemergence applications in RR2 Xtend soybeans at this time. I’m assuming the farmer quoted in the advertisement was a participant in Monsanto’s Experimental Use Permit (EUP) program. An EUP allows a manufacturer to evaluate non-registered products on fields greater than 10 acres in size. Failing to mention this could easily give other farmers the impression that spraying a non-labeled dicamba product on RR2 Xtend soybeans is acceptable.

3)  While I have no problem with a company promoting the effectiveness of their products (“THE FIELD WAS SPOTLESS”), in the current era I think it is essential to mention the need for integrated programs. The ad fails to mention the use of other tactics such as preemergence herbicides, but it doesn’t go as far as ads at the beginning of the Roundup Ready era that stated glyphosate was ‘The only weed control you need.’

Ironically, this ad appeared in farm magazines shortly after serious off-target injury from illegal applications of dicamba on RR2 Xtend soybean was reported in Missouri, Arkansas, and other southern states.  Missouri’s Department of Agriculture reported complaints of dicamba injury on over 40,000 acres of soybean, 700 acres of peaches, 3,000 tomato plants and many other crops and landscape plants. While the off-target movement and resulting injury were due to illegal applications of older dicamba formulations, the magnitude of the problem illustrates the critical importance of appropriate stewardship when using these products when/if they are approved by EPA.

1The opinions expressed here are mine, not those of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

2It is likely that some of these issues were described in the fine print at the bottom of the advertisement, but I was unable to read the fine print on the scanned image I received.  Regardless, these are such important issues that they shouldn't be delegated to fine print where the majority of readers would fail to pay attention.

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Bob Hartzler Professor of Agronomy

Dr. Bob Hartzler is a professor of agronomy and an extension weed specialist. He conducts research on weed biology and how it impacts the efficacy of weed management programs in corn and soybean. Dr. Hartzler also teaches undergraduate classes in weed science and weed identificatio...