The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday more than doubled the number of U.S. states where Dow AgroSciences' controversial new herbicide can be used.
The EPA approved Enlist Duo on Oct. 15 with a series of restrictions aimed at addressing potential environmental and health hazards. At that time it said the herbicide could be used in six states - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The regulatory agency added nine more on Wednesday, all key farming states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
Enlist Duo was developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, as an answer to severe weed resistance problems that are limiting crop production around the country.
More than 84 million acres of farmland are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds, and the problem continues to climb each year, Dow's U.S. crop protection commercial leader, Susanne Wasson, said in a statement.
Enlist Duo is designed to be used with genetically engineered corn and soybeans, which have been altered to tolerate being sprayed with Enlist Duo. The specialty crops and the herbicide are to be sold as a branded "Enlist Weed Control System."
Like the popular Roundup Ready system developed by rival Monsanto Co, farmers who plant Enlist crops can spray over the crops in their fields with Enlist herbicide and kill weeds but not the crops.
Enlist Duo combines an herbicide component known as 2,4-D with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.
The EPA is currently evaluating a weed resistance management plan for glyphosate as well.
A coalition of U.S. farmer and environmental groups filed a lawsuit in October seeking to overturn the EPA's approval of Enlist Duo, claiming the EPA did not adequately analyze the impact of 2,4-D.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Leslie Adler)