‘Catchy’ phrases not helpful in fight to grow crops

You farm thousands of acres of corn, soybeans or other crops. You’re dealing with farm-gate prices 30 to 40 percent lower than last year and costs that have barely fallen. So when’s the last time you “drenched” a plant with an herbicide?

While that may sound far-fetched, it’s the term activists used in one of their first press releases after EPA notified the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals it was moving for “voluntary vacature and remand of its registration” of Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Duo herbicide.

The activist groups – Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety – claimed in a lawsuit EPA failed to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered species. The press release called the EPA’s move a win.

Many of the press release’s terms would be laughable to growers. It claims Enlist Duo is a “toxic combination of glyphosate and 2-4D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops that are designed to withstand being drenched with this herbicide cocktail.”

But this is the kind of misinformation most newspapers and other newsgathering outlets and eventually the general public saw when they first learned about the new development on farm chemicals.

EPA said it had received new information regarding potential synergistic effects between the two ingredients on non-target plants and that it could not be sure “without a full analysis of the new information that the current registration does not cause unreasonable effects to the environment.” Although EPA has never considered such synergistic effects before, Dow says it will work with EPA to review the data and satisfy the agency’s concerns or develop new requirements that will allow it to be used in 2016.

That’s a far cry from activists’ claims glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, 2,4-D causes serious human health effects or “our food is being drenched by a poisonous cocktail of pesticides.”

Such statements do nothing to further the dialogue of how farmers can grow more crops and feed more people at less cost. All they do is muddy the waters and make it more difficult to companies and growers to develop and register the products they need.

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