With EPA's recent announcement on the registration of new uses for herbicide mixtures containing the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate (in the Enlist® formulation) in conjunction with new genetically engineered crop varieties, farmers are being offered one more new tool to manage emerging populations of herbicide-resistant weeds in corn and soybeans crops.
In its decision for 2,4-D use on genetically modified corn and soybean, EPA has outlined new requirements for registrants as part of a product stewardship program.
Congruently, there are several steps the USDA is taking to help farmers manage their herbicide resistant weed problems in a more holistic and sustainable way:
- USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer financial assistance under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for herbicide resistant weed control practices that utilize Integrated Pest Management plans and practices.
- Later this year NRCS will be soliciting proposals under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program for innovative conservation systems that address herbicide resistant weeds.
- USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced yesterday it will actively promote use of best management practices (BMPs) in design protocols for regulated authorized releases of genetically engineered (GE) crops and will include recommendations for BMPs with the authorization of field trials of HR crops.
None of this is going to placate activitsts. But it's a program. The program represents some sort of structure, or protocol, or palette of best practices. If nothing else, these announcements are conversation starter, for industry and purists alike!
Bright ideas for GE crops
USDA is partnering with the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and is providing funds to develop education and outreach materials for various stakeholders on managing herbicide–resistant weeds. The Secretary has directed Dr. Sheryl Kunickis, Director of the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy, as the point person leading this effort with the USDA.
Prior to the post at Office Of Pest Management, Dr. Kunickis served as Director and Program Manager of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Beltsville, Maryland. Prior, she served the NRCS over 21 years as Research Coordinator, Program Manager, and Laboratory Director, and Soil Scientist and Landscape Analyst. Dr. Kunickis earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Agronomy from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from North Carolina State University in 2000. She appears to have a conservative strain.
Herbicide resistant weeds
The issue of herbicide resistant weeds has become one of increasing importance for agriculture. When herbicides are repeatedly used to control weeds, the weeds that survive herbicide treatment can multiply and spread. It's like the antibiotics problem.
EPA intends to require the same stewardship plans for all new applications for product registration on genetically modified crops with the goal being to encourage effective resistance management while maintaining needed flexibility for growers.
USDA says it recognizes that the problem of herbicide resistant weed control will not be solved solely through the application of new herbicides and that USDA will continue to work to ensure that growers have the diverse tools they need to address the management of herbicide resistant weeds.