Loss of a major crop protection product is not small news to an industry battling weeds that are increasingly harder to control. One new technology that aims to help combat the problem is the Enlist system, which allows the spraying of both glyphosate and 2,4-D (in a new formulation) for control of weeds.
However, recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vacated the label for the product in light of information presented as part of a lawsuit brought against the product. That stopped sale of the herbicide Enlist Duo – the labeled product for use with the new biotech system – and farm groups are not happy.
This week a coalition of farm groups led by the American Soybean Association sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator, EPA, requesting the agency withdraw its request to vacate the registration of the product. The groups highlight the “urgent need for new modes of action to tackle resistant weeds on farms across the country.”
In the letter, the groups wrote that growers need the new mode of action and that regulatory delays “have exacerbated the proliferation of hard-to-control weed populations. These delays are necessitating more intense weed control practices that complicate environmental management.”
The groups also wrote that among the “many new requirements for registration of Enlist Duo at EPA was an unprecedented review of the potential effects of the product on threatened and endangered species. After an exhaustive state-by-state review, EPA concluded that use of Enlist Duo in accordance with the product label, which imposed a 30-foot wind directional buffer zone, would have no effect on threatened and endangered species. This review took place on a product that simply combines two herbicides that have each been on the market for decades…”
The groups also took exception to EPA’s reference to additional and new data in its decision to reevaluate the product.
They wrote: “There will always be new information to be considered about products EPA has registered. Congress has recognized this, and included in FIFRA several vehicles for reviewing products. But none of these vehicles authorize the agency to withdraw a previously approved product in the absence of an ‘imminent hazard,’” which the groups note that information the agency is now considering does not come close to meeting that threshold.
Joining ASA on the letter is the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council and the National Farmers Union.