May 9 (Reuters) - Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical , said Friday it would start a “limited commercial introduction” in Canada of a new genetically engineered corn that tolerates a new herbicide developed by Dow that U.S. regulators are still examining.
Dow said the new corn will be offered to only certain Canadian farmers under tight controls, with full commercialization planned for 2015 after all needed import approvals are in place. Planting starts next week, Dow said. Any harvested corn must be kept on the farm, Dow said.
“It’s hands on in a real field setting,” said Dow spokeswoman Kenda Resler-Friend.
Canadian regulators approved the Enlist genetic trait for corn and soybeans in 2012 and the Enlist Duo herbicide was approved in 2013. The two products are designed to be used together, as the biotech corn is able to withstand sprays of the Enlist Duo herbicide, making it easier for farmers to kill weeds, according to Dow.
Enlist crops and the herbicide are still under consideration by U.S. regulators. Critics of the technology have called on U.S. regulators to deny Dow’s applications for approval, saying Enlist will harm the environment and worsen weed resistance problems.
But both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have said they are planning on granting approvals.
Dow hopes to commercialize what it calls the Enlist Weed Control System in the United States next year. The company says the products are designed to help combat the millions of acres of farmland that have become choked with weeds resistant to glyphosate, the chief ingredient in the popular Roundup herbicide sold by Dow rival Monsanto Co..
Enlist Duo herbicide contains a combination of the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate, and has been formulated to reduce drift and volatization, characteristics that should make the new formulation less likely to accidentally harm neighboring fields, Dow said.
Dow officials have said Enlist corn and soybeans should be on the U.S. market by 2015. Enlist cotton should follow them at some point in the future, they added.
Reporting by Carey Gillam; editing by Andrew Hay