After nearly a year of intense public comments and industry lobbying, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy is expected to announce the approval of Dow Chemical's Enlist Duo herbicide for use on millions of acres of US farmland early next week.
Enlist is a new weed control system consisting of genetically
modified (GM) corn and soybeans designed to withstand applications of
the new Enlist Duo herbicide, which is composed of glyphosate (the
active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup) and 2,4-D, a component of Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange.
Dow Chemical created the Enlist system in response to the evolution of so-called 'superweeds'
caused by the over-application of glyphosate on genetically modified
crops. Farmers have applied increasing amounts of herbicides to control
weeds since the approval of GM crops in the late 1990s, causing what
many have described as a 'pesticide gusher'.
With the addition of the more powerful chemical 2,4-D, Dow hopes to
allow farmers to eradicate the herbicide-resistant weeds from their
fields, at least in the short term. They also stand to steal some market
share away from Monsanto, whose patent on Roundup Ready crops expires next year.
More than 86 percent of corn and soybean growers in the southeastern
United States and 61 percent in the Midwest reported hard-to-control
weeds on their farms, according to Dow. This represents an incredible
number of herbicide-resistant weeds evolving after just 19 years of
farming genetically modified crops in the United States.
Yet biotech and chemical companies are still optimistic that they can
solve the problems they created with more biotechnology and more