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Call to action

February 23, 2018
By BOB STREIT - Columnist , Farm News

One more week in this month and the month of March will have arrived. Though this might be a snowy month with a blizzard or two, we will see longer days with more sunshine and gradually warmer temps. That also means that the official start of spring will arrive on the 21st and the start of the Midwest's corn planting season could begin in five to six weeks. The first corn that was planted in the area I travel and work in was in the ground on April 6th. To think that anyone is nearly ready to roll out of the shed by that date as of now, seems nearly impossible, but it could happen,

Our health status

Recently, the FAN or Fluoride Action Group announced their intention to sue the EPA and any other agency promoting the addition of fluoride to municipal water supplies. The basis for their action was that they had carefully gone through over more than three hundred medical studies plus over fifty IQ versus fluoridation studies and found there was no justification for adding fluoride to drinking water. In reviewing the IQ studies they found there was an average lowering of IQ by 5 to 10 points when recommended rates of flouride were fed to adolescents.

A long withheld article that was published twenty years after being written on the same element detailing how the practice of fluoridating water sources began after there was a leak of the product on Long Island from a major corporation. It was used in the processing of uranium needed in the war effort. The cloud spread over pastures, veggie fields and orchards, killing or harming many of the plants and animals. The scientists left to create happy news and calm the affected populace and farmers recognized that no human studies on its effects or safety had been conducted, so dumping flouride in several cities' water supply seemed the easiest way to fill that knowledge gap. There were many denials and propaganda releases made to the public. In perhaps the most egregious story the press claimed flouride was perfectly safe plus helped reduce cavities. To reinforce that claim they published the results from one company where they said that within their workforce there had been no cavities in the previous year. They neglected to say that all of the workers had all of their teeth fall out by then.

So finally concerned parents and citizens said their tolerance limit had been exceeded and it was time to take action. It will be interesting to track.

European actions

At nearly the same time there were political happenings over the pond in Europe. Over the summer and early fall there were many hearings concerning the re-registration of a certain systemic herbicide for the next five years. Many groups of consumers supported the fight, but their efforts seemed to have been in vain, as the voting parties lined up either behind France (against) or behind Germany (for re-approval for another five years).

There were a number of groups from around the world and from the U.S. who testified in front of the Parliament in the Netherlands. In cases like this the side with the most money and purchased politicians typically wins.

Germany is the country in Europe that carries the most weight, and in the end the Minister of Ag, Herr Schmidt, voted in favor of the five year extension. That meant that the countries that typically vote the same way Germany votes threw their ballots into the 'in favor of renewal' and the official vote was for the renewal. It was a done deal, or so they thought.

Then slowly as the Germans called for an election to have a show of confidence in Merkel's government, she did not have the voting strength she formerly had, and had to find additional votes by which she would be able to claim the majority.

The party she needed the votes from was the green party. One of their major points was to vote against the planting of GM crops and renewal of the five year license renewal and likely phase out of that herbicide. So in the action that followed the Minister of Ag was forced to admit he had gone rogue and did not have the authority to make that vote in favor on his own. So German rescinded their vote, Merkel stays in power, and the coalition that had formerly favored the five year extension changed course and appear ready to change their direction on weed control in their countries. Much of it was likely the fact that the citizens of those countries felt they were getting run over by a foreign company. They also have seen human health problems increase in recent years. So we will have to see how this issue develops over in the U.S.

Meanwhile we have the ongoing debate over the dicamba issue. The Upper Court in Arkansas released their ruling over the request by one of the makers of the new form of dicamba to rescind the state ban on its application after April 15th. Their ruling was that the court had no legal ability to reject the ban.

The issue, rather than disappear, seems to have more galvanized each side. One fact that has emerged is that formulators have now said that they reduced the volatility of their products by about 30 percent. What is that supposed to mean for the people and regulators trying to tame the product? To use or not to use? Who pays for the damage when and if it occurs? What spray additive would lessen its volatility?

We have see three companies announce their products work in that manner. As an overview one has to wonder how our partnered consumers within the U.S. and in foreign countries would view the status of our production systems and the safety of our ag exports if that system allows every tree, bush, veggie and ornamental to be killed by a government approved product? Why one has to mention ornamentals is that recent observational research has found that dicamba drifted upon flowers and fruit plants often do not flower.

Cancellation of corn orders by


I had one grower send me a recent article telling of how shipments of corn already booked by a Chinese buyer had been canceled due to their not being able to get a processing permit from their government agency. With their central party listening to the populace's wishes they are apparently involved in deciding what goes into the feed. Their alternative supplier was going to be corn producers in the Ukraine, who were going to custom produce what was requested of them. What a novel idea.

New ideas or products for 2018

At about a dozen weeks in front of the new growing season we all have questions about what new ideas or products will give the greatest ROI. Might one of those come from one of the traditional sources or will it be an outlier place or person. The two hot topics based on the press seem to be a workable data sorting system and the use of eyes in the sky be it from satellites, an airplane or a drone. Following that might be biological mixtures that deliver results on a consistent basis, newly reevaluated foliar mineral applications, and the use of polymers to stabilize foliar applied products from environmental degradation.

Watch our website for a meeting in early March that a few of us plan on holding in the Ames area. The topics are those just listed.

May you all have a productive last six weeks before the new growing season arrives. This column could likely be called my call to action column and will likely generate a letter to the editor or two. But that is what writers are supposed to do.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or



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