Market News & Headlines >> APHIS Advises Approving New Herbicide-Resistant Crops

USDA officials on Tuesday said they were leaning toward approving a new line of herbicide-tolerant crops developed by Monsanto Co., even though it acknowledged they could increase problematic weed resistance for farmers.

A draft "environmental impact statement" (EIS) from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), said the agency’s analysis shows the new genetically modified cotton and soybean plants should be approved.

APHIS found that the wider use of these new genetically engineered (GE) plants would help growers manage weeds, but “would also likely result in an increased chance of the development of weeds resistant to dicamba”.  However, its analysis also showed that growers can use “diversified weed management practices to mitigate this impact.”

St. Louis-based Monsanto, said the APHIS move was "a noteworthy sign of progress."

“It is an important step in the regulatory process and we are encouraging farmers to urge APHIS to complete this action as soon as possible," Michelle Vigna, Monsanto's product manager, said in a statement.

Monsanto developed the new soybeans and cotton to resist a new herbicide that combines dicamba and glyphosate, which the company is branding as Roundup Xtend. The "Roundup Ready Xtend crop system" is aimed at combating the millions of acres of weeds that have grown resistant to Monsanto's glyphosate-based Roundup, which has been used extensively on the company's GE corn, soybeans and cotton.

APHIS also on Tuesday issued a final EIS for GE corn and soybean plants developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical. That EIS also states the agency intends to approve the products. APHIS previously said in January that it was leaning toward approval for Dow's products.

Dow has developed what it calls Enlist corn and soybeans that resist a new herbicide developed by Dow that includes both glyphosate and 2,4-D. A final decision is expected after a 30-day public review period, the agency said.