Herbicide Shortage Raises QuestionsJul 16, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP
Cotton growers in the Southeast United States are facing a shortage of an herbicide designed to reduce the growth of weeds among their crops has created a stir of controversy among farmers and the companies which manufacture cotton seeds and herbicides.
According to a report from Southeast Farm Press, cotton farmers in that region can not find adequate supplies of Liberty/Ignite herbicide. The herbicide is used in conjunction with the Phytogen Widestrike cotton seed, which has a built-in gene making it resistant to glufosinate, the active ingredient in Liberty/Ignite. If a farmer plants these seeds, they are more than likely forced to use a glufosinate-based herbicide to prevent further damage to their crops caused by weeds. However, supplies are dwindling and many growers have been unable to purchase the proper herbicide.
These herbicides are becoming increasingly difficult to find and although Bayer CropScience, the makers of Liberty/Ignite, says it is working around-the-clock to manufacture more of the product, some farmers believe it is working in collusion to force some companies out of the cotton seed market. Growers who also planted the Stoneville or Fibermax cotton seeds are also having difficulties in finding the correct supplemental herbicide. These seeds contain the LibertyLink gene, also making them resistant to glufosinate.
Bayer denies it is in cahoots with any seed growers to create a shortage of its herbicide and said an increased demand for its product has caused the short supply. It told the source, “Bayer CropScience respects our customers and the difficulties they face fighting weed resistance. We are pleased to offer Liberty herbicide and LibertyLink crops as a solution. We have been working with distribution to proactively align the supply of Liberty herbicide with LibertyLink cotton, soybeans and canola.”
The acreage dedicated to growing cotton in the South has steadily declined in recent years and seed makers are actively pursuing the remaining fields to ensure its seeds are used, leading some farmers to believe the seed makers and herbicide makers are working in collusion to corner the market. Meanwhile, farmers are struggling to prevent weed growth in their fields which threatens the quality of their crop.