As Dow seeks growth, new Enlist crop/chemicals seen as key
It has been no easy task. Researchers set up a high-tech laboratory "spray booth" where technicians have taken tens of thousands of measurements of droplets of 2,4-D to formulate a spray that is less able to drift on the wind.
Dow researchers also had the new 2,4-D tested in a state-of-the-art wind tunnel in Queensland, Australia, and measured air concentrations levels over field tests.
"When we first started, we didn't know if we could do this," said Dow senior research scientist Steve Wilson. "But we've been at this for years. And we are where we need to be."
Many farmer groups have said they are eager for the new herbicide and crop combination.
"These new products like Enlist will help us address some of the weed resistance issues. It is something we need," said Ray Gaesser, an Iowa corn and soybean farmer and president of the American Soybean Association, which has urged the USDA to approve Enlist.
Still, more hurdles lie ahead. Dow has not yet won China's approval for import of Enlist crops, and Dow officials said they may go ahead with commercialization in the United States even without Chinese approval. Such an approach could jeopardize some U.S. grain sales to the world's second-largest economy. A similar scenario involving a biotech corn developed by Syngenta has caused some shipments of U.S. corn to be rejected by Chinese importers.
There is also a possibility that weeds will become resistant to Enlist, as they have to Roundup.
Dow officials have said they hope to extend Enlists' longevity by encouraging farmers to also make use of other herbicides.
"The last thing we want to do is invest all this in Enlist and have resistance develop," said Hassinger. "Enlist is going to be a key contributor to our growth."
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