Thursday, September 18, 2014

USDA approves Dow's Enlist on GMO corn and soybeans; critics fear weed resistance

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday gave final approval to new genetically modified corn and soybeans developed by Dow AgroSciences that, while heavily criticized by environmentalists and some farmers, are portrayed by Dow as an answer to weed-resistance problems that limit crop production," Carey Gillam reports for Reuters. If approved by the Environmental Protection Agency the product could be on the market in time for the 2015 planting season.

"Like the popular Roundup Ready system developed by rival Monsanto Co., farmers who plant Enlist crops can spray their fields with Enlist herbicide and kill weeds but not the crops," Gillam writes. Roundup Ready—used on about 90 percent of U.S. corn and soybean plantings every spring—has wiped out milkweed plants in Midwestern corn and soybean fields and has been blamed for decreasing the nation's number of monarch butterflies. Roundup is also being blamed for an explosion of hard-to-kill super weeds.

Dow says Enlist addresses that problem, because weeds have yet to build up a resistance to it, Gillam writes. "But critics say 2,4-D can cause potential health and environmental problems, including increasing weed resistance. And they fear the chemical will damage neighboring farm fields. Fruit and vegetable farmers are particularly concerned that 2,4-D drift will lead to crop damage. But Dow has said the Enlist system is safe if properly used." (Read more)

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