Parsons, Kansas —
MILWAUKEE (AP) —The U.S. government has proposed eliminating restrictions on the use of corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to resist 2,4-D, a move welcomed by many farmers but feared by environmentalists who worry it could invite growers to use more chemicals.
Dow AgroSciences has asked the USDA to deregulate one corn and two soybean varieties, all resistant to both 2,4-D and glyphosate.
The herbicide has had limited use in corn and soybeans because it becomes toxic to the plants early in their growth. The new seeds would allow farmers to use the weed killer throughout the plants' lives.
Farmers have been eager for a new generation of herbicide-resistant seeds because of the prevalence of weeds that have become immune to glyphosate. But skeptics are concerned that use of the new seeds and 2,4-D will lead to similar problems as weeds acquire resistance to that chemical.
``It's just so clear. You can see that you have this pesticide treadmill effect,'' said Bill Freese, a chemist with the Washington, D.C.-based Center For Food Safety, which promotes organic agriculture.
Most corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are already genetically engineered. Before Roundup was introduced in 1976, most farmers tilled their fields prior to planting, flipping the soil over and burying the weeds to kill them. The technique also exposed tilled earth to the air, creating problems with erosion and runoff.
Herbicide-resistant seeds permitted most farmers to stop tilling because they could spray fields after plants emerged, killing the weeds but leaving crops unharmed.
The new generation of plants ``allowed us to do a better job of controlling the weeds, and therefore, we've been able to do a better job of preserving the soil, which is our primary natural resource,'' said Ron Moore, who grows 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans with his brother in western Illinois.
USDA's plant-inspection agency concluded the greatest risk from the new seeds developed by Dow AgroSciences was increased use of 2,4-D, which could hasten the evolution of weeds resistant to it.
But, the agency said, resistance could develop anyway because 2,4-D is the third most-used weed-killer in America.
Freese and other advocates also raised concerns about possible health risks from increased use of 2,4-D and the chemical's tendency to drift beyond the area where it is sprayed, threatening neighboring crops and wild plants.
Dow AgroSciences has addressed that by developing a new version of 2,4-D and new equipment to use with it, company spokes-man Garry Hamlin said.
The seeds and new 2,4-D have been approved in Canada but not yet sold there. The company has targeted their release in the U.S. for 2015, pending approval by various federal agencies. In anticipation of that, it has received import approval from seven nations and has applications pending in about six others to allow farmers who use the seeds sold under the Enlist brand to export their crops.
For now, Dow AgroSciences' seeds can only be used in tightly controlled trials.
The Center for Food Safety and the environmental group Earthjustice threatened legal action if restrictions are lifted.
The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a separate review on the impact of expanded use of 2,4-D, although it previously found the herbicide safe. £
Parsons, Kansas —
WASDE report eases low crop price fears
USDA’s April 9 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates continued a series of recent reports that have offered corn and soybean producers a more optimistic grain-price outlook than what was expected for most of the winter, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt says.
USDA: Corn acres expected to drop 4%
The amount of American cropland devoted to corn is expected to shrink about 4 percent this year as farmers devote more acres to soybeans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week.
Bt-resistant rootworms ID’d in five states
Researchers say bugs are developing resistance to the widely popular genetically engineered corn plants that make their own insecticide, so farmers may have to make changes.
MU economist: Corn, bean price volatility next 5 years
Expect volatility in the soybean and corn markets over the next five years, said Pat Westhoff, director of the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (MU FAPRI).
Look for corn prices to drop to $4 per bushel and soybean to $10 per bushel on average for the next five years, he said.
Plan now to control marestail in soybeans
Controlling marestail in soybeans has been a big challenge for Kansas no-till producers in recent years.
Because soybeans are generally planted later in the season, and marestail generally germinates in the fall or early spring, application timing and weed size are critical factors to successful control.
Checking alfalfa for winter injury
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard many concerns about alfalfa production for this spring.
Cold temperatures and lack of snow cover are the two main issues producers are worried about for next season’s crop production, as certainly the alfalfa plant could die if exposed to extremely cold temperatures. In general, alfalfa plants can tolerate up to three weeks of winter injury before the plants are killed.
USDA reports on status of GE crops
Genetically engineered (GE) varieties with pest management traits became commercially available for major crops in 1996.
More than 15 years later, adoption of these varieties by U.S. farmers is widespread and U.S. consumers eat many products derived from GE crops — including corn-meal, oils, and sugars — largely unaware that these products were derived from GE crops.
Everest still leads Kan. wheat acres
For the second year in a row, a variety of wheat developed by Kansas State University, is the leading variety in Kansas.
Innovation, exports fuel soybean demand
Brent Hayek is revved up about potential new uses for soybeans, and he is piling up the miles to share his enthusiasm.
Seed legumes on snowy fields
Winter seeding clover over grass pastures works best in February. Frozen fields are ideal and a snow cover makes seeding easier.
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- WASDE report eases low crop price fears