The Environmental Protection Agency this week affirmed its approval of a Dow Chemical herbicide combination and proposed expanding it to additional crops and states.
Regulators first registered Dow's Enlist Duo in 2014 but, after securing a court order, conducted an additional review this year to examine previously undisclosed documentation from the company's patent filings.
On Tuesday, the agency said that the combination of herbicides glyphosate and 2,4-D "does not show any increased toxicity to plants and is therefore not of concern."
Enlist Duo is approved for use with genetically modified corn and soybean crops in 15 states, and the EPA proposed adding modified cotton crops to the registration along with 19 other states. A final decision on the amendment is expected early next year.
"EPA’s protective and conservative human health and ecological risk assessments re-confirmed our 2014 safety findings," the agency said in a statement.
Dow originally expressed confidence that Enlist Duo would be re-approved by the EPA and said that it expected "enthusiastic grower adoption" of the product.
Enlist Duo, like numerous other herbicides, is designed to be applied to farm fields whose crops are genetically engineered to resist it.
But glyphosate, the most heavily used herbicide in the world, faces weeds that are increasingly resistant to it. The addition of 2,4-D aims to provide additional protection against any glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Both pesticides, however, were classified as possible carcinogens by the World Health Organization's cancer research arm last year. Dow and Monsanto, the maker of glyphosate-based Roundup, disputed those findings, and EPA said its analysis found "very low risks to human health" and "no health risks to people living near treated fields."
Environmental advocacy groups, however, criticized the EPA's decision as “a capitulation to the agrichemical industry.”
“Once again, EPA has failed to protect the health, well-being and livelihood of America’s farmers and rural communities,” said Pesticide Action Network senior scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman. “The agency’s decision dramatically increases the risk of pesticide drift causing severe crop losses and harms to human health.”