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EPA Approval Of Enlist Duo Sparks Controversy

Keith Weller
US Department of Agriculture
Genetically modified corn.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering approving the herbicide Enlist Duo for usage in 10 states including Missouri. It has already been approved in Illinois and five other states.

Enlist Duo is used on genetically modified corn and soybeans. The crops are engineered to withstand the chemical while it kills surrounding weeds.

It is a combination of commonly used herbicides 2, 4-D and Glyphosate, also known as Roundup.

Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture Chairperson, Dr. Michael Aide, said it is not uncommon to package herbicides together to reduce weed pressure.

"With all herbicides certain weeds become resistant, and therefore all we are doing is placing a second herbicide in context with the first herbicide to get a broad spectrum of control,” Aide said. “We've been doing that for 40 years, so it's not really a new concept."

He said since we already use both herbicides they should be able to package them in an environmentally safe way.

According to Aide, using GMOs and Glyphosate is beneficial for the environment.

“We are actually reducing our use of other herbicides that could be far more damaging to the environment,” he said. “As far as doing GMO crops, that is reducing our overall pesticide usage.”

Patty Lovera, assistant director at Food and Water Watch, said more research on this chemical is needed.

“EPA is supposed to look at whether this herbicide, this chemical is safe to use, but there are real limits in their environmental reviews of this chemical,” she said. “They talked about gaps in their knowledge, gaps in what we know and not understanding everywhere its going to end up in the environment.”

The herbicide 2, 4-D is known for drifting, Lovera said.

“People are very, very worried we’re going to see damage because of the increase use of this 2, 4-D and the likelihood that it’s going to drift and it’s going to hurt farmers who aren’t growing these GMO crops,” she said.

Lovera says the studies need to measure if crops sprayed with Enlist Duo are safe to eat, and if people will be exposed to the chemical through the environment or water supply.

Jessica Penland was an intern reporter for KRCU in 2014.