Dow’s herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans spark renewed criticism from environmental campaigners

The US Department of Agriculture has approved Dow’s ‘Enlist’ engineered corn and soybean seeds for commercial cultivation without special authorisation. Dow claims this represents the most thorough review of a genetic modification yet. However, US environmental advocacy group Center for Food Safety (CFS) immediately condemned the decision and vowed to sue to stop commercialisation.

Enlist seeds are genetically modified to resist the hormone herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) as well as glyphosate (Roundup), to combat growing levels of glyphosate-resistant weeds. The rise of resistant species is widely attributed to Monsanto’s introduction of Roundup Ready engineered crops, and the concomitant increase in glyphosate use.

Dow intends the seeds to be used with an accompanying herbicide, Enlist Duo, which is a blend of glyphosate and the choline salt of 2,4-D. However, the US Environmental Protection Agency has yet to approve the product.

The CFS objects on grounds that these traits will mean farmers use significantly more herbicide while growing crops, and encourage development of weeds that are resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D.