MILWAUKEE — The federal government Friday proposed eliminating restrictions on corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to resist a common weed killer, a move welcomed by many farmers but worrisome to scientists and environmentalists who fear it could invite growers to use more chemicals on crops.
The herbicide known as 2,4-D has had limited use in corn and soybean farming because it becomes toxic to the plants early in their growth. The new seeds would allow farmers to use the weed killer throughout the plants' lives.
Farmers have been eager for a new generation of herbicide-resistant seeds because of the prevalence of weeds that have become immune to Monsanto's Roundup. But skeptics are concerned use of the new seeds and 2,4-D will only lead to similar problems with weeds resistant to that chemical.
Scientists and environmentalists also say 2,4-D can easily drift beyond the area where it is sprayed, threatening neighboring crops and wild plants.