EIS required for Enlist and dicamba GE crops
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Friday the agency plans to prepare two separate environmental impact statements (EIS) to better inform decision-making regarding the regulatory status of crops genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicides known as 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and dicamba.
APHIS' Notices of Intent to prepare these EIS's will officially publish in the Federal Register in the near future, and each notice will be accompanied by a 60-day public comment period.
These are the first GE plants developed to be resistant to these specific herbicides, which have been approved by the EPA and have been safely and widely used across the country since the 1960's to control weeds on crop and non-crop sites. If approved, these GE plants would provide farmers the flexibility for new applications of these herbicides, while also offering farmers additional crop planting options.
For the 2,4-D resistant plants (one corn and two soybean varieties), APHIS has previously made available for public review and comment petitions by Dow to deregulate the products, along with draft environmental assessments and plant pest risk assessments for two out of the three products. APHIS received approximately 8,200 comments, including petitions signed by more than 400,000 people in response to these documents.
Dow AgroSciences was quick to post a comment regarding the USDA announcement, which clarifies that the 2,4-D product and crop production system being referenced is the Enlist Weed Control System. “Consistent with USDA’s announcement today, we are confident in the value that the Enlist Weed Control System will provide to agriculture. We will continue to support our customers by working with USDA/APHIS to get the much-needed Enlist technologies approved for commercial use as soon as possible.”
The Dow statement went on to point out that even USDA notes the herbicides in question have been “safely and widely used across the country since the 1960s” and these new crop traits “would provide farmers the flexibility for new applications of these herbicides, while also offering farmers additional crop planting options.”
Four years ago, Dow AgroSciences began submissions of a data package to support the Enlist traits. Since that time there have been quickly spreading weed disasters of glyphosate-resistant and hard-to-control weeds affecting tens of thousands more farmland acres.