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Investigators looking into pesticide misuse in Missouri Bootheel

Missouri agriculture officials are looking into widespread misuse of pesticides in in theBootheelregion.

JudyGrundler is division director for plant industries within the state's Department of Agriculture. She told a state House committee on Thursday that there have been 115 complaints in four counties of pollution caused by pesticides in the past month alone.

"To put that in perspective, typically we receive somewhere between 75 and 80 complaints on pesticide use throughout the state in a single year," she said.

Soybeans_via_Flickr_-_United_Soybean_Board.jpg
Credit The United Soybean Board | Flickr
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Seventy investigations are open, encompassing nearly 40,000 acres of farmland and more than 400 fields in southeastern Missouri.

"Complaints are coming from damage to soybeans, primarily," Grundler said, "(but) we also see damage in peaches, peanuts, purple hull peas, watermelons, tomatoes, and also some alfalfa."

She presented her findings to the House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources. She said, though, that she left some details out due to the ongoing investigations.

Meanwhile, one committee member, state Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, said he will file legislation next year that would increase fines for illegal use or misuse of pesticides to $10,000 a field. It is now $1,000 a field. He sees the overuse of pesticides leading to the targeted insects building up resistance.

"If we don't control this type of behavior, then we're going to lose that chemistry sooner (rather) than later," Rone said, "and pretty soon we'll have no chemistry that'll work in a field, and then we'll really have some problems."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.