APHIS backs two new lines of GE corn

By Stephen Davies

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 23, 2016 -Two new lines of genetically engineered (GE) corn will not be regulated, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced today.

The first line (MZIR098) was developed by Syngenta Seeds, Inc. for both insect resistance and glufosinate-ammonium resistance. The second line (MON 87419) was developed by the Monsanto Company for resistance to the herbicides dicamba and glufosinate.

APHIS documents supporting the decision on the Syngenta line are here. Documents for the Monsanto line are here.

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The Monsanto petition for nonregulated status prompted nearly three dozen comments. It was opposed by Food & Water Watch, which said that allowing dicamba-resistant corn would “lead to an increase in dicamba use, which will spur the evolution of dicambaresistant weeds and the abandonment of conservation tillage practices.”

FWW called on APHIS to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement. (APHIS's decision on both lines was supported by an Environmental Assessment and accompanying Finding of No Significant Impact, or FONSI).

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition also said an EIS was needed. “Without a coordinated and thorough evaluation of the full technology package, and a meaningful analysis of impacts, adding yet another new crop/herbicide package will continue adding to the existing harmful effects on herbicides on ecological systems, human health, and farmers' livelihoods through herbicide drift and nontarget crop losses; the widespread increase in herbicide-resistant weeds; and environmental and public health impacts.”

Monsanto supported the decision, commenting that “the use of herbicides which provide multiple mechanisms-of-action against target weeds is an effective stewardship practice for season-long control of weeds, for delaying the selection of herbicide-resistant weeds, for managing populations of weeds that are already resistant to a particular herbicide, as well as for a long-term solution for sustainable weed management.” 

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The company said that if growers have glyphosate-resistant weeds in their fields, “it is recommended that they use two or more different herbicides (e.g. dicamba plus another non-glyphosate herbicide) with different mechanisms-of-action on the resistant weed species.”

The National Corn Growers Association also supported the decision and said it “look(ed) forward to the availability of new herbicide systems in corn production.”

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