WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2017 – Corn, soybean and cotton growers in 34 states will be allowed to use Enlist Duo under a new decision issued by EPA.
The agency had to reconsider its 2014 decision to approve use of the herbicide because of questions about the synergistic effects of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the two active ingredients in the product.
EPA initially allowed use of Enlist Duo on corn and soybeans in six states and then expanded that number to 15. Now, based on new data submitted by manufacturer Dow AgroSciences, EPA has reaffirmed its original decision on the safety of the product and added approval for use in another 19 states, not just for genetically engineered corn and soybeans, but for GE cotton, as well.
“The pesticide meets the safety standard for the public, agricultural workers, and non-target plants and animal species, including a ‘no effects’ determination for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act,” EPA said.
In a release, Dow AgroSciences said the Enlist cotton trait will be available this spring “in a number of high-yielding PhytoGen brand varieties.” States also must approve the herbicide for use. “Once all necessary state registrations are received, growers in the (34 approved states) will have access to this groundbreaking technology on cotton, soybeans and corn that contain the Enlist trait,” the company said.
Dow said it is “fully prepared” to launch Enlist corn and Enlist soybeans “upon receipt of pending import approvals.”
Asked which approvals it is waiting on and whether it anticipates receiving those in time to launch Enlist corn and soybeans this spring, Dow spokesman David Sousa said the company is "directly engaged with the appropriate regulatory authorities in China and the European Union. A final decision on our plans will be made closer to planting.”
The company touted the benefits of Enlist Duo, saying that new technology “reduces physical drift by up to 90 percent when applied with a low-drift nozzle.” Dow also said Enlist Duo has “near-zero volatility” because of the use of 2,4-D choline compared with 2,4-D ester.
EPA will require certain precautions when using Enlist Duo. For example, the herbicide will not be allowed to be applied by aircraft or when wind speed is over 15 mph. In addition, “Only approved nozzles at specified pressures may be used for application.” Finally, the agency is requiring a 30-foot, within-field buffer “to protect sensitive areas when the wind is blowing toward them. This will also further protect bystanders and non-target plants.”
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) criticized EPA’s decision. Senior scientist Nathan Donley noted that in late 2015, EPA had asked a federal appeals court to vacate the product’s registration after EPA discovered that a patent application submitted by Dow included information on potential synergistic effects between 2,4-D and glyphosate.
“It defies reason, let alone good regulatory sense, that just last year the EPA asked a court to cancel registration of this product due to the unknown risks it posed, and now it suddenly wants to more than double the number of states where the pesticide can be used,” Donley said. “We'll be evaluating our options for stopping this expansion from going forward.”
CBD has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to EPA asking for the Dow studies.
Responding to public comments about the synergy issue, EPA said that some filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “suggest that combined mixtures have enhanced activity or synergistic effects,” but that “the endpoints in these patent application studies tend to be based on visual observations of weed control and injury, and so are not directly applicable to the EPA’s quantitative risk assessment process for plants, in which measures of sublethal effects (plant height and weight) serve as sensitive effects thresholds for risk estimation purposes.”
The data submitted by Dow “demonstrate that the combination of 2,4-D choline and glyphosate in Enlist Duo does not show any increased toxicity to plants and is therefore not of concern,” EPA said.
The original 15 states where Enlist Duo was approved are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The new states added to the approved list are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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