Business Stories of the Week: Sept. 1

by September 1, 2017

A lethal weed killer was approved this year to control ever-stronger weeds in soybeans and cottons. Instead, it has drifted from where it was initially sprayed, leaving a trail of dying crops in its wake, reported The Washington Post.

A lethal weed killer was approved this year to control ever-stronger weeds in soybeans and cottons. Instead, it has drifted from where it was initially sprayed, leaving a trail of dying crops in its wake, reported The Washington Post. (“Corn photo” via Pexels).

The weed killer that’s devastating farms

A deadly weed killer was supposed to guarantee weed control against ever-stronger weeds in soybeans and cotton. Instead, it’s wreaking havoc on farms across the Midwest — leaving a trail of dying soybeans, trees and other crops. On Tuesday, The Washington Post dug into the devastation caused by the dicamba system as the herbicide has spread from the fields where it was initially applied to millions of acres of other crops. Farmers told the Post dicamba was approved by government officials without enough data. Monsanto, the maker of the product, has denied there are issues with the product. But farmers are worried the current crisis could put them out of a  job.

Insurance coverage falls short for most small businesses devastated by Harvey

The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey isn’t over yet, but business owners across the country can agree on one point: the National Flood Insurance Program isn’t going to cut it for most small business owners when the flood waters recede. For most businesses, the federal program is the only option since private insurers got out of the flood insurance businesses nearly a century ago. The Wall Street Journal reported on the program’s pitfalls on Tuesday — especially for businesses (the program was primarily designed for homeowners). Standard protections, including for business interruption and disaster preparation, aren’t covered and payouts for damages have remained stagnant since 1994.

Gene-altering therapy for leukemia approved by the FDA

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported the Food and Drug Administration approved a ground-breaking treatment for leukemia that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer — upending the current treatment for the disease. The drug, Kymriah, was approved for children and young adults for an aggressive type of leukemia that has long-resisted standard treatment or relapsed. The drug’s maker, Novartis, has also been working to develop gene therapies for other types of cancers. While the drug could be life-saving for many, the drug isn’t without risks: including dangerous drops in blood pressure and other severe reactions. It also comes with a steep price tag: $475,000 for one individually-tailored dose, which will be given to patients just once.

Stock market keeps roaring despite eventful week

Even Hurricane Harvey and a North Korean missile launched over Japan couldn’t shake the stock market’s gains this week — which is also near its all-time high, reported Reuters on Thursday. Positive economic data and the possibility of a tax reform plan that could be passed by Congress sent the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index higher on Thursday. The S&P 500 Index rose 14.06 points, or 0.57 percent, to close at 2,471.65 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 55.67 points, or 0.25 percent, to close at 21,948.1 on Thursday. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s administration has a detailed plan on tax reform and is optimistic it will pass by the end of the year.

Uber chooses Expedia leader as CEO

On Sunday, The New York Times reported Dara Khosrowshahi, who currently leads the online travel company Expedia, was tapped to head the ride-hailing company Uber. Khosrowshahi emerged as the leader after a contentious search that led to three finalists, the Times reported. Jeffrey Immelt, the former leader of General Electric and Meg Whitman, the chief of Hewlett Packard Enterprise were the other finalists. It will be up to Khosrowshahi to change the company’s culture after Uber faced sexual harassment allegations, a Department of Justice criminal investigation, and an intellectual property dispute with a self-driving car rival.

Apple to change how users interact with next iPhone

Just when users thought they had mastered the iPhone, Apple Inc. decided to change the concept of a home button and make other adjustments to its widely-used phone, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday. Up until now, the home button has served as the main navigational tool for every iPhone since 2007. But three new iPhones will hit the market next month, including one model that will include a crisper screen that also removes the home button and places it with new gesture controls for tasks like going to the main app grid and opening multitasking, reported Bloomberg. The other two models will use faster processors, but include the same screens as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.