Sunday, January 29, 2012

Herbicide-tolerant Corn Subject of Regulation Debate
Dow wants regulations lifted for its herbicide-tolerant corn, but sustainable-ag organizations say the product threatens agricultural traditions and personal and environmental health.
By Abby Tripp, Hobby Farms Assistant Editor
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is considering a petition by Dow Agrosciences to deregulate a corn genetically engineered for herbicide tolerance. The corn, which is engineered to resist several grass and broadleaf herbicides, including 2,4-D, would be marketed as part of Dow’s Enlist weed-control system.

Dow’s petition for deregulation comes on the heels of the company’s November 2011 announcement of the successful production of 2,4-D choline in a commercial scale-up setting. According to company spokesperson Garry Hamlin, the new formula has a leg up on earlier iterations of the herbicide, which used amines or esters. While Hamlin says it’s just as effective as its precursors, he adds that 2,4-D choline boasts “better characteristics [and is] less prone to drift and less prone to volatize.” This is a boon for diversified operations, he explains, because it decreases the likelihood of “particularly susceptible crops,” such as grapes and cotton, from coming into contact with the herbicide.

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