Some of those who have opposed the use of 2-4, D are other farmers, according to King.
“It can be nasty on tomatoes, for example,” he said.
But Dow has reformulated 2-4,D to make it less volatile, which means it is less likely to drift on slight winds into non-targeted ag plots, according to King. The new formula will also resist volatilization due to changes in temperatures, which can allow the existing 2-4,D formula to vaporize a day after it is applied and drift off-site.
“We think the non-target issues are going to be very, very minimal,” King said.
If approved, the new seeds could be on the market as soon as 2015, according to King.
The new 2-4, D formula, coupled with the genetically-modified seeds, will allow farmers to spray the new 2-4, D over the top of corn at any point in its growth to kill weeds that may have germinated after an initial spraying of another herbicide, King said.
Weeds in a small vegetable garden can be controlled through hoeing or back-breaking hand pulling. But scale that effort up to hundreds or thousands of acres of corn or soybeans, and manual labor is not an option, according to those in the ag industry at the Fort Wayne show.
So the application of herbicides is used to control weeds. And what would happen if weeds were not controlled by herbicides?
“Our yields would decline dramatically, said Brian Mitchem, an agronomist with DuPont in Decatur, Ind. “It gets back to the old issue — we are adding 40,000 new people on this planet every single day. Every one of them is hungry and they all have to be fed. So we have to continually increase the amount of calories and protein we produce in order to feed the population. And if we don’t, you simply would have even more people who were malnourished and starving.”