Decision could boost use of popular weed killer

Critics: More study is needed on effects of the herbicide
Associated Press
Aug 13, 2014


Faced with tougher and more resistant weeds, corn and soybean farmers are anxiously awaiting government decisions on a new version of a popular herbicide — and on genetically modified seeds to grow crops designed to resist it.

Critics say more study is needed on the effects of the herbicide and they are concerned it could endanger public health.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to rule this fall on Dow AgroSciences' application to market Enlist, a new version of the 2,4-D herbicide that's been around since the 1940s. It's partly a game of catch-up for the agriculture industry, as many farmers are dealing with weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used on corn and soybeans now.

If approved, the 2,4-D would be used in combination with glyphosate.

An Agriculture Department decision on the company's genetically modified seeds also is expected this fall. In the department's final environmental review released last week, the USDA recommended approval. The agency said that if both the seeds and herbicide are approved, the use of 2,4-D could increase by an estimated 200 to 600 percent by the year 2020.

While the USDA only oversees the safety of the plants, the EPA oversees the safety of the herbicide for human and environmental health. The agency has already found the chemical safe several times for other species as well as for the public and agricultural workers.

Groups lobbying the agency to prevent the herbicide's expanded use say they are concerned about the toxic effects of the herbicide and the potential for it to drift. Corn and soybeans are the nation's largest crops, and the potential for expanded use is huge.

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said the EPA studies so far have not been comprehensive enough and need to look more closely into the effects of pesticides on children.

"This is a once-in-a-generation decision that will have a huge impact on public health, especially on farmers and rural residents," Faber said. "This is a moment to step back and ask if this is a durable weed control solution for farmers."

Damon Palmer of Dow AgroSciences says the new version has been re-engineered to solve potential problems, like drift before and after the herbicide hits the plant. The company says it is moving forward at a critical time in agriculture, helping farmers be more productive so they can meet an increasing demand for food. Officials say multiple studies and reviews over the last six decades have confirmed the herbicide's safety.

2,4-D is now used on other crops, including wheat, and on pastures and home lawns. It is the world's most popular herbicide and the third most popular in the United States, behind atrazine and glyphosate.

Most corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are already genetically engineered. Before Monsanto's Roundup herbicide was introduced in 1976, most farmers tilled their fields prior to planting, flipping the soil over and burying the weeds to kill them. The technique exposed tilled earth to the air, creating problems with erosion and runoff and releasing greenhouse gases.

Herbicide-resistant seeds introduced in the 1990s allowed farmers to spray fields after their plants emerged, killing the weeds but leaving crops unharmed.

Critics expressed concern that if the herbicide is approved, weeds will eventually become resistant to it, too. George Naylor, an Iowa farmer who is on the board of the advocacy group Center for Food Safety, called it a "pesticide treadmill" that needs to be slowed down. The Center for Food Safety has lobbied against expanded use of genetically modified crops and chemicals in agriculture.

Palmer of Dow AgroSciences said the company has created the new seeds with "multiple locks on the door" in an effort to avoid increased weed resistance.

In its environmental assessment, the USDA said increased resistance is a risk, and farmers will have to find ways to adapt if they find it decreases in effectiveness. The agency said it's hard to predict how that will play out, however.

"Therefore, it is difficult to accurately predict when and the extent to which 2,4-D-resistant weeds will become a problem," the USDA said.



Licorice Schtick

Oh good. Maybe it'll kill the algae that's been eating fertilizer. If it kills some aquatic plants, fish, animals and people,oh, well...

The Bizness

Actually, the "algea" that causes the toxic blooms isnt even a true plant so this wouldn't help at all.

Cyanobacteria is what causes the toxin mostly.


That's the bacteria that is released when the algae (a plant) die off.

The Bizness

Wrong, Cyanobacteria is often called "blue green algea" although it is prokaryote bacteria.

When the cyanobacteria die off it then releases its toxin it is though. Although scientist aren't 100% positive that this is when the release of the toxin occurs.


Gotcha. So why are they calling it algae?


Mindless over-reliance on unsustainable farming practices. Try telling that to a farmer and they will rip your head off for going against the instructions of their corporate seed masters. The vicious cycle of tolerance continues and in ten years it's even more artificial crap to keep things growing. I wonder how many cancers gibbs has created with his sky tractor poison spreader.
And I notice you literally throw caution to the wind on those really windy days.


EPA stacked with Big Chem people.


People used to die from starvation. Now people are dying from eating GMO's, herbicides/pesticides, and fertilizers. Chemicals in water as well. Read the obits and see how hospitals grow and grow. Our so called wisdom and intellect is destroying life as opposed to extending life.

Florence Nightingale

You're lumping a lot of things together there - have you got any evidence of anyone dying from eating GMOs?

Ralph J.

GMO foods linked to cancer for profits
GMO: This Toxic Food is BANNED in Europe - But They're Treating US Like Boneheads

Licorice Schtick



Holysee is right. People forget about WHY Louis Bromfield started Malabar Farm. Most never read Silent Spring either. Now the rent is coming due because of Agri-BUSiness . Earl Butz helped get rid of farmers - there is a difference. Man is the only animal that dirties his nest.


Birds crap all over my car. Their nest is not dirty but my car looks crappy.


Farmers: Good crop = pay. Bad crop = pay. Too much crop = more pay. Not enough crop = pay. And they'll all argue and cry from their winter homes in Florida.


Re: "a new version of a popular herbicide,"

Give the tens of millions getting welfare, extended unemployment, food stamps and other unearned entitlement spending hoes and have 'em weed.

Environmentally safe.

Ralph J.

"In its environmental assessment, the USDA said increased resistance is a risk, and farmers will have to find ways to adapt if they find it decreases in effectiveness. The agency said it's hard to predict how that will play out, however.
"Therefore, it is difficult to accurately predict when and the extent to which 2,4-D-resistant weeds will become a problem," the USDA said." So if weeds become resistant to herbicides, and it can happen, what is the next step? The 1% doesn't care if weeds become resistant or if people get sick from genetically modified foods. The greedy bastards only care about money. The 1% also own the news media. Don't expect the news media to report that all these GMO foods or herbicides are causing people to get sick and die. Lawn care companies are big business selling herbicides and fertilizers, much of which gets washed into streams and lake. The 1% owned news media will not tell you this. The lawn companies tell you to cut your grass really short, down to the crowns, so that your lawn gets crabgrass and other weeds. A healthy lawn is actually an ecosystem full of microbes and earthworms. Chemical herbicides and fertilizers kill off these soil microbes and earthworms. The EPA approves these various chemicals and herbicides. Dupont came out with a lawn herbicide that killed or severely injured all kinds of trees and shrubs. The 1% owned news media kept Dupont's Imprelis damage a big secret so that Dupont would pay little or nothing for damages. Do an internet search on Imprelis and you will get very little results. Dupont went into damage control to avoid paying for the trees that were killed. The 1% owned news media kept it under wraps.

Ralph J.

Imprelis and EPA Registration
Imprelis, marketed by DuPont as an environmentally safe alternative to 2,4-D, has shown itself to be anything but. More than two years after its ban by the EPA, it’s still damaging trees.


If it weren't for chemicals there would be more starvation in the world. But, nature has a way of taking care of the population. Less food, less people.


@ Licorice Schtick; I have to agree with your post, "too many people" as I too have stated before. It seems no wants to discuss the ever growing human population on a finite planet. It WILL have to addressed or......maybe the world's elite have already taken it into account and have a "grand plan" to shirk the population. Genocide comes in many different forms.


Re: "have a "grand plan" to shirk (sic) the population."

Will the illiterate conspiracy nuts be the first to get "shirked"? :)


@ Ralph J, knowitall, SunshineDaydream and Justusforliberty>>>>>> Agree.