EPA approves use of Dow’s ‘Enlist Duo’ herbicide in Iowa

Farmers lauded the EPA’s decision to approve the new weed-resistant herbicide while environmentalists are leery of the potential health effects. (Wikimedia)

Nick Fetty | October 16, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday approved a controversial herbicide for use in Iowa and five other states.

The agency gave the green light to Dow’s Enlist Duo weed killer which will be used in conjunction with the company’s corn and soy bean seeds that were approved by the Department of Agriculture in September. The herbicide is engineered to combat resistant and other resilient weeds. To avoid pesticide drift and other potential hazards, the EPA has implemented a 30-foot no spray buffer zone around application areas, forbids application when winds speeds exceed 15 miles per hour, and disallows the use of aircrafts to apply the pesticide to fields.

Critics fear that the weedkiller could have detrimental effects for humans as well as the environment. Within hours of EPA’s decision, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to disallow use of the herbicide citing the potential health effects for humans as well as monarch butterfly populations.

“The agency evaluated the risks to all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and took into account exposures through food, water, pesticide drift, and as a result of use around homes,” the EPA said in a press release. “The decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ to human health.”

The herbicide has been approved for use in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The EPA is considering approving use of the herbicide in 10 other states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Dakota.

The EPA has released the full report (EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0195-2418) as well as frequently asked questions about the new herbicide.

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