The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued Aug. 6 a final environmental impact statement on Dow’s Enlist corn and soybean, stating the technology poses no plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the United States.

Under the Plant Protection Act and APHIS’ regulations, the agency is specifically required to evaluate whether GE crops are a plant pest. As a result of the determination, the Plant Protection Act directs APHIS to seek deregulation in such cases as the agency’s “preferred alternative.” The final EIS affirms APHIS’ preferred alternative to fully deregulate these new GE crops. 

Following the close of the 60-day comment period, APHIS thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the 10,140 comments it received and has addressed them in the final EIS.

The final EIS enables APHIS to better understand the impacts of its regulatory decision including how the adoption of these products by farmers may lead to an increased risk in the development of new herbicide-tolerant weeds. The final EIS affirms that diversified weed management practices could mitigate the impacts.

The only remaining action before regulatory approval of the Enlist traits is USDA issuance of a Record of Decision.

“This has been one of the most extensive evaluations of a new agriculture technology in recent history,” says John Cuffe, Global Regulatory Sciences and Regulatory Affairs Leader for Dow AgroSciences. “USDA has produced a thorough, modern assessment. Now we are eagerly anticipating final regulatory approvals from USDA and EPA so farmers can get the help they need.”

Farmers across the Midwest and Southern U.S. have been grappling with resistant and tough weeds for multiple seasons. Resistant weeds now affect 70 million acres of American farmland.

Regulatory authorities outside the U.S. have already approved components of the Enlist system, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Colombia, Taiwan, Mexico and others.