The Save Our Crops Coalition (SOCC) initiated legal action to force government regulators to analyze potential problems with proposed biotech crops tolerant of the synthetic auxin herbicides, which include 2,4-D and dicamba. SOCC is a grassroots organization of various farm interests that claims it supports biotechnology but is leery of the volatility and drift potential of the synthetic auxins. Most specialty crops and many commodity crops are highly sensitive to these herbicides.

(For more, see: EPA rejects NRDC request to cancel 2,4-D registrations)

Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto have deregulation petitions filed with USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service for 2,4-D and dicamba tolerant corn, respectively. Both companies plan to develop the same traits into soybean and cotton in the near future. These herbicide tolerances are being touted as a means to combat herbicide resistance in many parts of the country.

In their legal petitions, SOCC is asking USDA to conduct an environmental impact study (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act on the ramifications of both new corn traits’ releases. An EIS takes about two years to complete. The coalition also is demanding that EPA conduct a Scientific Advisory Panel meeting and appoint advisors to the panel to address herbicide spray drift. The legal petitions require a response from the agencies before petitioners can file suit to force a response.

In a press release from Dow, the company reports that it has reformulated their product to be a 2,4-D choline, a new product, which has demonstrated a 92 percent reduction in volatility and a 90 percent reduction in drift, based on research data recently presented at scientific meetings. Dow also stated that an additional environmental assessment is unnecessary, expressing its confidence that EPA and USDA will make data-driven determinations under their respective statutory authorities for environmental protection and plant health.