Lawmakers Urge EPA, USDA to Reject New Herbicide


Group of fifty federal lawmakers say Dow AgroSciences' “Enlist Duo” herbicide contains the same compound as Agent Orange.

by Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — A group of 50 federal lawmakers have asked the EPA and USDA to reject the registration of Dow AgroSciences' Enlist Duo, a herbicide designed to be used on corn genetically engineered to tolerate 2,4-D.

The proposed registration drew more than 27,000 public comments during a comment period that closed at the end of June. EPA said it was set to make a decision on the registration by late summer or early fall.

In a letter sent to USDA and EPA July 31, the lawmakers — led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine — called on EPA to reject the registration. The product would contain the “same compound used in Agent Orange that sickened many Vietnam veterans,” the lawmakers said in a news release posted on DeFazio's web site.

“We request that USDA and EPA fully review the facts, law, and science in this case,” the letter said. “As the over 400,000 public comments indicate, the risks of approving 2,4-D crops are simply too great and benefits too few to jeopardize public health, the environment and the long-term sustainability of our food supply. We therefore request EPA not register Enlist Duo for use on 2,4-D crops and USDA maintain the regulated status for 2,4-D resistant crops.”

In the letter, the lawmakers said they are concerned EPA and USDA have not adequately examined the potential health and environmental effects of using the product. EPA has indicated that it has found Enlist Duo to be safe.

“We currently stand at an agricultural crossroads,” the letter said. “The first generation of 'Roundup Ready' GE crops increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds between 1996 and 2011, triggering an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant 'superweeds' which now infest over 61 million acres across 36 states. While they are often touted as a solution to herbicide-resistant weeds, even the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recognizes in its draft Environmental Impact Statement that deregulating 2,4-D crops will spur the further evolution of 2,4-D resistant weeds and cause a three- to seven-fold increase in 2,4-D use.”

The letter raised a number of concerns about EPA's scientific examination of the product. The lawmakers said the agency hasn't done enough to look at inhalation and aggregate exposure; the risks of 2,4-D exposure to threatened and endangered species; and the risks posed by shifts in use patterns of 2,4-D as a result of the GE cropping systems.

“Most alarming is EPA's failure to apply the additional safety factor of 10x, as mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, to protect children, who are especially susceptible to harm from pesticide exposure,” the letter said. “The 10-fold safety factor is required by law to safeguard against the potential health risks for young children and infants that would result from the widespread use of 2,4-D on GE crops.

“Despite acknowledging these significant harms, in the DEIS, APHIS alleges it 'must' approve the proposed crops pursuant to the Plant Protection Act, because they do not create 'plant pest' harms. However, in so doing, APHIS has narrowly constrained its interpretation of its regulation. This overly narrow and arbitrary interpretation of APHIS's authority is contrary to common sense and good governance principles, as well as contradicts prior acknowledgments by APHIS that its GE crop review is 'considerably broader' than its review of 'traditional' plant pests.”

The lawmakers point to surveys of state pesticide regulators who “establish that 2,4-D drift is already responsible for more episodes of crop damage than any other pesticide.

“Vastly increased use with approval of 2,4-D crops would correspondingly increase crop damage, putting farmers of sensitive crops at grave risk. Wild plants, waterways and wildlife — including pollinator — habitat would also be threatened.

“While APHIS admits that transgenic contamination because of its proposed action is possible, even likely, it refuses to analyze it. We believe that contamination will occur and it will result in significant economic harm to conventional, organic and even some growers of the first generation of glyphosate-resistant GE crops. Yet, the agency wrongly puts the entire burden on non-2,4-D crop farmers to attempt to avoid contamination.”

Read the letter here,…


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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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