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Published January 06, 2014, 10:31 AM

Comments from farmers, public sought on new herbicide-resistant seeds

Farmers and the general public can weigh in on a controversial weed control system that recently completed another step toward U.S. Department of Agriculture approval.

By: Agweek staff report,

Farmers and the general public can weigh in on a controversial weed control system that recently completed another step toward U.S. Department of Agriculture approval.

USDA on Jan. 3 recommended full deregulation of corn and soybean traits in Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Weed Control System. Currently, the seeds can be used only in tightly controlled field tests.

The announcement opens the doors to commercial development of corn and soybean seeds that resist the herbicide 2, 4-D. Such seeds would provide another option to farmers who are concerned about increased weed resistance to glyphosate, a widely used herbicide.

More than 61 percent of farmers in the Midwest are struggling with herbicide-resistant or hard-to-control weeds, Dow said in a statement.

Environmental groups criticized USDA’s announcement. They said 2,4-D has been associated with Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems, among other things. The Center for Food Policy, for instance, said Enlist would “increase the use of toxic pesticides in industrial agriculture while providing absolutely no benefit to consumers.”

Starting on Jan. 10, the public will have 45 days to comment on the USDA proposal. USDA said it will hold a "virtual public meeting" to receive feedback from the public before it makes a final regulatory decision.

More information on contacting USDA: www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2014/01/eis_ge_products.shtml.

Dow, for its part, invites farmers’ feedback at www. enlist.com or at the Twitter handle, @EnlistOnline.

Dow said it hopes to have Enlist corn and soybeans available to farmers in 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency also is reviewing the safety of Enlist. The EPA decision is expected to be issued in the next few months.

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