Good Grief… Enlist Gets Pulled before Kickoff!

Farmers are starting to feel like Charlie Brown.  Remember how Charlie Brown would get prepared to kick the football only to have Lucy pull it away, causing Chuck to fall on his back?  That’s how farmers feel about new seed technologies! They eagerly await regulatory approval – then time and time again – these advanced technologies are pulled away right when it looks like they’re within reach.Charlie brown

The latest football pull back came last week when the EPA reversed their decision on Dow Agroscience’s Enlist Duo herbicide.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week pulled its approval of Dow Chemical Co’s new herbicide Enlist Duo to “study new information regarding the product’s impact on non-target plants.” The EPA is concerned that Enlist could be toxic to non-targeted plants, some of which are considered endangered species.

What a GIANT setback for the Enlist (2,4-D based) platform! Enlist can provide farmers with a great tool to fight weed escapes and resistant weeds, which is literally a growing problem in farm fields. We saw more pressure from weed resistance during the 2015 crop year than ever before. Although farmers put down pre-plant herbicides, more and more weed escapes are happening later in the season. The pressure from weed resistance is getting worse and is very commonly reducing yields.

In a statement released Dec. 1, Dow stated approval of Enlist for the 2016 growing season is still possible. We’re cautiously optimistic because the Enlist platform is one of three new soybean technologies that have been approved in the U.S. but have yet to receive Chinese approval.  The other two great new technologies are Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (dicamba) and Balance GT from Bayer CropScience.  Corn technologies that are stalled by Chinese approval include Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade and Dow’s Enlist PowerCore.

Seed companies, like Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, and technology providers have been touting the greatness of these technologies for years. Years! It’s no wonder farmers want seed companies to stop talking about these new technologies until they get approved. We know how disappointing it is to get excited about the possibility of a new technology only to have it pulled away.

We agree that the proverbial football has been pulled too many times.  Government agencies and foreign governments have slowed the path for new technologies approval to a crawl. However, we believe it’s important to keep talking about the benefits of such new technologies so elected officials understand their importance to agriculture and their role in helping feed a growing world population. Something must change in the regulatory climate, so companies continue to invest them. We don’t want to miss out on the next great technology!

I’m tired of the Charlie Brown complex.  It’s time those of us in agriculture grab that football and score a touchdown! Contact your elected officials today about the importance of new seed technologies to agriculture.