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New herbicide-tolerant crops – USDA to assess environmental impact

USDA/APHIS has announced that it will prepare two environmental impast statements for dicamba- and-2,4-D resistant crops. The crops include Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D tolerant corn and soybeans and Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. APHIS plans to host upcoming public meetings that will be publicized through the Federal Register and the agency’s Web site.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has announced plans to prepare environmental impact statements (EIS) on 2,4-D- and dicamba-resistant crops.

The crops, which include Dow AgroSciences’ 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybeans and Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, are expected on the market by mid-decade.

APHIS noted that both herbicides “have been safely and widely used across the country since the 1960s to control weeds on crop and non-crop sites. If approved, the genetically engineered technology would provide farmers the flexibility for new applications of these herbicides, while also offering farmers additional crop planting options.”

Monsanto said it “will cooperate with APHIS as it prepares an EIS on the company’s next-generation dicamba weed management technologies: Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton technologies.”

Rob Fraley, Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, said he hopes the company can use data from a previously completed environmental assessment on dicamba crops, and from EISs previously prepared for alfalfa and sugar beets, to help expedite an EIS on dicamba.

Monsanto took the delay in stride, saying it will continue to use its Ground Breakers program to provide educational opportunities on dicamba-resistant crops at regional learning centers. Preparing the EIS, Fraley said, “gives us one more year of determining which of the new varieties perform the best.”

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