Farm groups cheer EPA’s Enlist decision

In a spring planting season of shortages, anxiety and world market disruptions, the Environmental Protection Agency had some good news for soybean, corn and cotton growers. Farm groups hailed the EPA’s decision, announced March 29, that it has issued updated supplemental labels for the herbicides Enlist One and Enlist Duo that remove geographic restrictions for two listed species, the American Burying Beetle and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.

This decision means that growers in 134 counties where the use of Enlist was banned or restricted county-wide will now have access to it. But “numerous” county-level bans remain.

Enlist herbicides were granted a seven-year amended registration in January and are the first products to complete the EPA’s new Endangered Species Act Protection risk assessment process. Enlist cotton and Enlist E3 soybean crops are tolerant to three herbicide modes of action, 2,4-D choline, glufosinate and glyphosate, allowing for an integrated weed management program to tackle herbicide resistance and improve the sustainability of farmers’ weed control practices

The updated supplemental labels remove geographic restrictions for Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides in 128 counties where American Burying Beetle is found, as well as six counties where Enlist Duo was restricted due to the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Updated usage area maps and supplemental labels will be available on

“Corteva Agriscience is working on behalf of our customers to see as many labeled-off counties reinstated as possible while still protecting listed species and their habitats,” said Susanne Wasson, president, Crop Protection Business Platform for Corteva Agriscience. “American Burying Beetle and Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake counties were prioritized because they represent the majority of restricted acres and getting them back on the label allows more growers access to this critical weed control technology for 2022.”

“Demand for this leading weed control system continues to grow and Corteva Agriscience field teams are ready to serve growers with Enlist-traited crops and herbicides as we move into spring planting,” said Cynthia Ericson, vice president, U.S. Marketing for Corteva Agriscience. “Corteva Agriscience is continuing to conduct studies and provide additional data to EPA to support the removal of further geographic label restrictions where feasible.”

The Enlist weed control system includes Enlist herbicides, Enlist Ahead, Enlist E3 soybeans, Enlist cotton and Enlist corn. The comprehensive system offers multiple herbicide modes of action to control tough weeds and is centered around 2,4-D choline with Colex-D technology, which provides, Corteva said, key benefits including near-zero volatility, reduced potential for off-target movement and physical drift, and improved handling characteristics when applied pursuant to label instructions.

Farm groups including the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council welcomed EPA’s announcement.

Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soy farmer and president of the American Soybean Association, said, “County-level bans had growers in these areas anxious and frustrated when the announcement came out in January–especially in this market where inputs are scarce and costs are sky-high. We appreciate EPA hearing our concerns and working to quickly restore access in many counties where science and data support doing so.”

“On behalf of corn farmers, we would like to thank the EPA for expeditiously reviewing the data and lifting the corresponding restrictions,” said Iowa farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Chris Edgington.

Growers had been critical of bans affecting entire counties where protected species may be present in only a fraction of the county or potentially not at all, or where conservative estimating methods have overestimated the impact on some species.

Numerous counties remain under county-level bans following EPA’s latest decision. The groups hope the agency will continue reviewing data that might allow use to be restored in those areas, as well.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “AFBF is glad EPA is partially stepping back from its decision to restrict critically needed herbicides right before spring planting. It is essential that EPA continue to work with farmers to understand the impacts of its decisions. Products like Enlist enable farmers to utilize environmentally beneficial practices that preserve the soil, minimize fuel use, and capture carbon. We hope EPA is cognizant of timing constraints, supply chain challenges, and the implications of various restrictions in future pesticide decisions.

Stephen Logan, chairman of the National Cotton Council’s Environmental Task Force and a Louisiana cotton producer, said he appreciates that EPA continues to refine the science necessary to comply with the ESA and FIFRA mandates, stating, "Many mitigations are already in place, and others—such as reasonable buffers—provide species protection without banning use for the whole county. I hope EPA and the services continue to refine their decision process and credit farmers for our environmental stewardship actions on our farmlands.”

David Murray can be reached at [email protected].