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Draft EIS Comment Period Closes for Enlist Corn and Soybean Traits

Kacey Birchmier Updated: 03/26/2014 @ 5:28pm Agronomy & Conservation Editor for Successful Farming and Agriculture.com. I grew up on a fourth-generation farm in central Iowa. Follow me on twitter - @KaceyBirchmier.

USDA has closed its comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Enlist corn and soybean traits. Dow AgroSciences has developed these traits that include tolerance to 2,4-D.

Dow AgroScience officials say supporters including farmers, weed scientists, specialty crop growers, members of Congress, state legislators, and the public provided comments and more than 15,000 petition signatures to USDA in support of Enlist corn and soybeans.

USDA also held a virtual public meeting on January 29 for the Enlist corn and soybean traits, during which growers, representatives from state agribusiness councils, and a university scientist testified in support of the technology.

“The agricultural community simply must be engaged when it comes to advocating for new technology,” said Alan Kemper, former president, American Soybean Association in a Dow press release. “This show of support for Enlist is extraordinary, and it’s exactly what we need if American farmers are to have the tools we need to steward our land for generations to come.” 

Dow officials say USDA produced an extensive Draft EIS document with a well-supported environmental evaluation of the Enlist corn and soybean traits. It also considered existing farming practices and several potential alternatives. USDA noted in the DEIS that its “preferred alternative” is to approve Enlist corn and soybean crops.

In his comment to USDA, Stanley Culpepper, weed scientist, University of Georgia, articulated the need for new weed control tools and the role Enlist will play. "The use of 2,4-D to assist in the management of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth would have instant and monumental impact in cotton and soybean production," says Culpepper. 

A coalition of eight growers representing Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio submitted a joint letter to USDA. While their weed control challenges, cultural practices, and operations range in size and scope, the growers were fully aligned in expressing why USDA’s deregulation of Enlist is critical to modern agriculture.

A preliminary review of comments posted to the docket thus far indicates no new questions have been raised that haven’t been addressed in the DEIS or the environmental assessments previously conducted by USDA on the Enlist corn and soybean traits.

USDA is expected to review the comments it has received in the coming weeks, and then will issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will open a comment period for Enlist Duo herbicide in the coming weeks.

Pending regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist corn and soybeans in 2015, with cotton to follow.For more information, visit Enlist.com.

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