Dow AgroSciences hits new speed bump along the Enlist road as EPA vacates label while it investigates allegations of synergies between glyphosate and 24D that may have unrecognized impacts

Dow AgroSciences hits new speed bump along the Enlist road as EPA vacates label while it investigates allegations of synergies between glyphosate and 2,4-D that may have un-recognized impacts.

Crop protection product pulled by EPA

Dow AgroSciences label for Enlist Duo vacated by regulatory agency over new concerns raised over ‘synergistic’ effect of 2,4-D and glyphosate.

Just as the holiday weekend was about to begin word came down from three environmental groups touting news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was vacating the label for Enlist Duo. The herbicide, which includes a premix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D, for use on Enlist-only crops, has come under fire from groups concerned about use of the legacy active ingredient.

On Nov. 24, counsel for EPA informed the counsel for all parties involved in a lawsuit concerning the Enlist Duo label that it was filing a motion to vacate the label. The statement from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where arguments are being heard about the product, notes that “EPA seeks a voluntary remand in order to reconsider the Enlist Duo registration in light of the new information. EPA also seeks vacatur of the registration because EPA cannot be sure, without a full analysis of the new information, that the current registration does not cause unreasonable effects to the environment, which is a requirement of the registration standard under FIFRA.”

In a statement released late Thursday, Dow AgroSciences President and CEO Tim Hassinger, comments: “We believe the questions that have been raised about any potential synergy between 2,4-D cholin and glyphosate can be promptly resolved in the next few months, in time for the 2016 crop season. It’s possible that we could see some changes to use conditions on the existing Enlist Duo label.”

Hassinger notes that based on continued dialogue with EPA “we do not expect these issues to result in the long-term cancellation of the Enlist Duo product registration. We continue to prepare for commercial sales of Enlist Duo for the 2016 growing season with enthusiastic grower adoption.”

Environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Food Safety have been suing EPA and Dow AgroSciences over the use of Enlist Duo. And another group, Earthjustice, has also been involved in actions to stop use of the technology. All three were touting the EPA news as a victory this week. In their joint release, the three groups state: “Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail.”

In the same statement, Paul Achitoff spoke on behalf of Earthjustice. His is managing attorney for the group. “With this action, EPA confirms the toxic nature of this lethal cocktail of chemicals, and has stepped back from the brink,” he says. “Glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and is wiping out the Monarch butterfly. 2,4-D also causes serious human health effects, and the combination also threatens endangered wildlife. This must not, and will not, be how we grow our food.”

Dow AgroSciences, in its statement, notes that evaluations of potential synergy from herbicidal mixtures are common within the crop protection industry and are not unique to the company or Enlist Duo. The statement goes on to say “EPA has not used observations of potential synergy in mixtures as a basis for regulatory action. Technology providers like Dow AgroSciences have commonly field patent applications on mixtures, without their being any connection to EPA’s regulatory processes.

Hassinger adds: “EPA now has all the data developed by Dow AgroSciences on observed potential synergies between 2,4-D choline and glyphosate in Enlist Duo,” Hassinger added. “From these data, EPA will readily see – after evaluating all of the efficacy data on the final formulation – why these data support the registration of Enlist Duo.” 

- Tom Bechman is editor Indiana Prairie Farmer, and contributed to this report

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