EPA to withdraw pesticide Enlist Duo

Photo credit: USFWS Mountain-Praire Photo credit: USFWS Mountain-Praire

New information has recently surfaced suggesting that the recently approved herbicide, Enlist Duo, is more toxic to non-target plants then previously thought prompting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin retraction of the approval. Enlist Duo was designed for use on GMO corn and soybeans and is composed of a combination of two herbicides, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and 2,4-D a commonly used herbicide on crops and lawns. While these two herbicides are frequently applied alone they have not been approved for use in combination with one another until now. Enlist Duo was designed specifically for use on GMO corn and soybean crops to combat weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate. When ‘Roundup Ready’ corn and soybean varieties were first developed farmers were able to liberally apply glyphosate to their fields without harming their crops. Unfortunately, overtime, many pernicious weed species have also developed resistance to glyphosate rendering it much less effective. While Enlist Duo combines multiple pesticides to strengthen its effectiveness in killing weeds data also suggest that it may be much more toxic to non-target plants. When herbicides used on farms find their way into surrounding natural areas via drift by wind or runoff, non-weed plants as well as the wildlife that rely on them as a source of food and habitat are threatened. Furthermore, simply applying new herbicides to crops is not a sustainable solution in the fight against herbicide resistant ‘superweeds’. As new herbicides are developed to combat resistant weeds, weed populations inevitably develop resistance to them creating a treadmill where farmers are constantly dependent on development of the next herbicidal concoction. The Organic Standards promote biodiversity and sustainability by requiring organic farmers to utilize integrative pest management strategies such as cover cropping and mulching to combat weeds. Incorporation of these techniques into conventional agriculture could drastically reduce the use of chemical herbicides and slow the development of herbicide resistant weeds.