A jury has asked Bayer and BASF to pay a combine USD 250 million in punitive damages to a southeastern Missouri peach farm. The peach farmer had argued that weedkiller dicamba that came to his orchard from nearby farms several damaged his trees. He claimed that companies manufacturing such products knew that it would harm farmers. The punitive damages to farmer Bill Bader are on top of the USD 15 million in actual damage awarded a day earlier. Bader’s attorneys argued that trees in Bader Farms, near Campbell, Missouri won’t survive the dicamba exposure. The division of punitive damages will be sorted out between BASF and Bayer. Both the firms have indicated that are considering other legal options. Attorneys of these firms argued that trees in the farms were damaged by adverse weather and root fungus.
Bayer has issued a statement stating that it remains committed to providing its customers with effective and sustainable tools that are required in the field. Echoing the same thing, BASF said that it is exploring legal options. The punitive damage awards in Bill Bader’s lawsuit could be a good sign for other similar lawsuits against both the companies which invented the pesticide. Bader family has refused to speak to the media after the trial. The family’s lawyer said that ‘very pleased’ with the ruling in the case. There are lawsuits that blame BASF and Bayer, inventors of dicamba, for damaging millions of acres of trees and crops across the country.
Dicamba has been in use for more than 50 years but the use of weedkiller saw a significant rise after Monsanto released dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This lead to more complaints about damaged crops from neighboring farms growing non-dicamba-resistant crops. The United States Environmental Protection Agency took note of it and increased the restrictions usage of dicamba in recent years. Several states even imposed additional restrictions that required more training for dicamba usage and also implemented cut-off dates after which it cannot be sprayed.