A draft Environmental Impact Statement from USDA reveals that full deregulation is the preferred alternative for what could become the first corn and soybeans resistant to 2,4-D herbicide.
Genetically engineered by Dow AgroSciences, the "Enlist" line of corn and soybeans are the first to be developed with 2,4-D resistance, and have been under USDA review for several years.
Dow says growers need new tools to fight herbicide resistance in weeds. Groups like the Center for Food Safety argue the decision, if finalized, could usher in a new era of American agriculture, a prominent feature of which being higher herbicide dependence.
A Dow estimate in the statement forecasts 2,4-D use would increase between 75 and 300 percent by 2020, even if USDA maintains regulation on Enlist corn and soybeans. If deregulated, use increases between 200 and 600 percent, according to the forecast.
The draft language will be open for public comment for 45 days after publication in the federal register sometime this week. EPA is currently reviewing the safety aspects of Enlist and will issue a decision in the coming months.