Debate is raging over a new biotech corn engineered by Dow Chemical. The corn, called "Enlist," is intended to solve farmers' struggle against tough weeds; that's because it's resistant to a powerful herbicide, also made by Dow. But environmentalists fear that wind, heat, and humidity would carry the herbicide toward distant areas where it could damage other crops, as well as trees and gardens, reports Reuters. Dow says its new version of the herbicide, called 2,4-D, cuts such "drift" by 90%.
That may be so, but opponents are concerned that farmers would use cheaper generic versions of 2,4-D that may be less safe. Some 5,000 people and groups have made their views on the matter known under regulators' call for public comments, which closes this week. A 2,000-farmer coalition has called on the USDA and EPA to take a closer look at the situation. Some say use of the herbicide would just lead to even tougher weeds. "It's a chemical arms race," says a food safety lawyer. "We won't be able to do anything with these weeds other than use machetes." Dow wants the new corn ready for planting in 2013.