USDA Sticks It to Monsanto and Dow—at Least Temporarily
| Sat May. 11, 2013 10:51 AM PDT
Even some mainstream ag scientists were alarmed at the coming escalation in the war against weeds. Scientists at Penn State University—not exactly a hotbed of alternative ag thinking—delivered a damning analysis of the novel crops, which would be engineered to withstand not only Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, but also the highly toxic old ones 2,4-D (Dow's version) and Dicamba (Monsanto's).
Yet in August, the USDA again signaled that approval would be imminent—and by the end of 2012, people who follow ag regulatory issues were telling me that the USDA would almost certainly approve the crops over Christmas break, timing the decision in an effort to minimize the inevitable uproar.
But then Christmas came and went with no announcement—leading Dow to issue a January press statement about how the unexpected delay meant it could not sell its new product to farmers for the 2013 growing season. Yet the company remained confident about the prospects for approval in time for planting in 2014—it told the trade journal Delta Farm Press it "expects all approvals will be in place for sale in late 2013," in time for its novel seeds to be used over a "broad geography" in 2014.
But on Friday, the USDA essentially trampled on those expectations—it announced it was delaying approval of the crops until it could generate full environmental impact statements (known as EIS's) on them. The move effectively means that the crops won't be planted in fields next year, either, a Dow spokesperson told Bloomberg News.