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In early July, on the sleepy Friday immediately after Independence Day, the USDA quietly signaled its intention to greenlight a new genetically engineered soybean seed from Dow AgroSciences. The item is designed to generate soy plants that withstand 2,4-D, a extremely toxic herbicide (and, famously, the much less toxic component in the notorious Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange).
Readers could bear in mind that in the course of an even-sleepier period-the week amongst Christmas and the New Year-the USDA produced a equivalent move on Dow’s 2,4-D-prepared corn.
If the USDA deregulates the two goods-as it has telegraphed its intention to do-Dow will appreciate a enormous profit opportunity. Every year, about half of all US farmland is planted in corn and soy. At the moment, Dow’s rival Monsanto has a tight grip on weed management in corn-and-soy country. Upwards of 90 percent of soy and 70 percent of corn is engineered to withstand an additional herbicide referred to as glyphosate by means of extremely profitable Monsanto’s Roundup Prepared seed lines. And right after so several years of lashing so considerably land with the very same herbicide, glyphosate-resistant superweeds are now vexing farmers and “alarming” weed-control professionals throughout the midwest.
And that’s where Dow’s two,4-D-ready corn and soy seeds come in. Dow’s novel items will be engineered to withstand glyphosate and two,four-D, so farmers can douse their fields with both herbicides the 2,4-D will kill the weeds that glyphosate no longer can. That’s the marketing pitch, anyway.
The USDA, for its element, is buying what Dow is selling. In Could, the agency released its Draft Environmental Assessment for the item, declaring that its “preferred option” was to deregulate it. And on July 13, USDA put out its “Plant Pest Risk Assessment” for it. This is a crucial document in the regulatory method for GMOs. Under the industry-friendly framework for GMO oversight cobbled with each other in the early ’90s by then-Vice President Dan Quayle, the USDA can only regulate genetically modified organisms if they literally pose a risk to other plants as defined by the Federal Plant Pest Act. This is a very high bar and as takes place with virtually all GMO applications, the USDA’s assessment of Dow’s novel soy concluded that it’s “extremely unlikely to pose a plant pest danger.”