May 16 (Reuters) - Canadian regulators have given a green light to Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical Co, to introduce a controversial new herbicide meant to control spreading weed resistance, Dow said on Thursday.
Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA)approved "Enlist Duo" herbicide for use in Canada, making it the first country to authorize the new herbicide.
U.S.-based Dow AgroSciences' Enlist herbicide is designed to be used alongside new biotech crops for which Dow is seeking approval. These biotech crops are able to tolerate Enlist herbicide, which helps farmers more easily treat fields for problem weeds.
Millions of acres of weeds throughout North America have become resistant to the popular Roundup herbicide, which is used in conjunction with "Roundup Ready" herbicide-tolerant crops. Dow sees its Enlist system as an alterative.
"Managing hard-to-control and resistant weeds is one of the biggest problems farmers are facing, and Enlist is a solution they need to continue moving farming forward," Stan Howell, vice president, North America, Dow AgroSciences, said in a statement.
Dow said the new crops and herbicide are safe and effective. But critics contend that Dow's plans will only add to weed resistance problems, and the 2,4-D chemical component in the Enlist herbicide is unsafe for humans and animals as well as the environment.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture surprised Dow AgroSciences on Friday when it said it wanted to further scrutinize Dow's proposed new Enlist crops, a move that delays Dow's commercialization plans in the United States.
Canadian regulators have already approved Enlist corn and soybeans and Dow said it will speed up seed production for a commercial launch.