What’s legal on the LL-GT27 soybean appendix

If you have been directed here from the recent C.O.R.N. article about this issue, below are the statements/positions of Bayer and BASF about legality of glyphosate on the LL-GT27 soybean.

Bayer

With the recent approval of LibertyLink GT27 soybeans for sale in the U.S., we have received several questions around the ability to apply Roundup brand agricultural herbicides over the top of LibertyLink GT27 soybeans. Please review the following talking points that can be used with retailers and farmers.

  • It is important to note that pesticide products can only be used and promoted in accordance with label instructions, and it is a violation of federal law to use or promote a pesticide product for an unregistered or non-labeled use. In order for any pesticide product to be legally used over the top of LibertyLink GT27 soybeans, such use must first be approved by the US EPA.
  • Unfortunately, Roundup brand agricultural herbicides are not currently registered for use over the top of LibertyLink GT27 soybeans. As such, the use of Roundup brand agricultural herbicides over the top of LLGT27 soybeans are not allowed, and we cannot promote such use. The only type of crop currently labeled on the Roundup brand agricultural herbicides labels for over the top usage are Roundup Ready crops.
    • In our label review of other glyphosate products in the market, those products as currently labeled also seem not to be approved for usage over-the-top of LibertyLink GT27 soybeans. As always, we recommend you review any label for allowable uses and always follow label instructions.
  • It is also important to note that the same laws and restrictions on use apply to all pesticide products. Growers should thus check all product labels for approved uses and read and follow all pesticide label directions before applying a pesticide product over the top of LLGT27 soybeans (or any traited crop).
  • Additionally, without full testing, we cannot assure crop safety with this new type of use.
  • We are, however, evaluating our potential options and plans moving forward regarding this new soybean technology, and if/when this new use is added to our label, we will inform this team.

BASF

BASF’s position regarding the labelled use of glyphosate herbicides over the top of GT27TM or LibertyLink® GT27TM:

LibertyLink® GT27TM and GT27TM contain 2mEPSPS, a glyphosate tolerant gene. Any glyphosate herbicide with an EPA approved label for over the top use which states it is for use on soybeans that contain a glyphosate tolerant gene and not limited to crops containing the Roundup Ready® gene, may be applied to LibertyLink® GT27TM and GT27TM in accordance with the EPA approved label.

Background

  • The language used throughout labels of registered pesticides can refer to traits/products or to genes. The approved language can make a specific herbicide label claim more or less restrictive. US EPA over time has selected different ways in which to define the approved use of the labelled product, resulting in some label ambiguity EPA has yet to address.
  • Label language for use over glyphosate-tolerant crops varies in important ways across the various different commercial glyphosate products.
  • For many years, there was only one glyphosate-tolerant gene used in the crop seed market, that being cp4epsps, the Monsanto (now Bayer/Monsanto) Roundup Ready gene, and so the referenced label inconsistencies did not result in any meaningful ambiguity. Now that there are multiple glyphosate-tolerant GMO seeds commercially available, those ambiguities raise questions EPA has yet to answer. However as noted above, certain of the labels as currently written do allow for use on products with a different glyphosate tolerant gene.
  • Currently there are several such genes in commercial use with one or more crops. Glyphosate-tolerant crops contain one of these patented glyphosate-tolerant genes (e.g. cp4epsps; 2mepsps; mepsps;)▪ cp4epsps: The Bayer/Monsanto Roundup Ready gene is cp4epsps

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▪ 2mepsps: The BASF gene is 2mepsps, which is the glyphosate tolerance gene in:

o GT27 and Liberty LGT27 from MS Technologies (co-developed with BASF) and

o E3 from Corteva/MS Technologies
▪ mepsps: The glyphosate tolerance gene in commercial Syngenta corn event

GA21

  • We have submitted soybean residue data demonstrating glyphosate tolerance for both GT27 and LibertyLink GT27, so glyphosate product labels should not be limited to certain branded glyphosate-tolerant crops.
  • To clarify and recognize that there are multiple glyphosate-tolerant genes available, EPA label language should not be restricted to certain branded glyphosate-tolerant crops (e.g., Roundup Ready).
  • This issue isn’t limited to soybeans as there are numerous glyphosate tolerant seedproducts currently on the market that are not Roundup Ready branded products.
  • EPA has stated “as a regulatory agency, the EPA maintains a neutral positionregarding biotechnology.” EPA should not necessarily favor one lawfully commercialized biotech trait over another on any basis other than as the law requires.https://www.epa.gov/regulation-biotechnology-under-tsca-and-fifra/introduction-biotechnology-regulation- pesticidesCommercially available, EPA-registered glyphosate products:

    Glyphosate products having an EPA approved label for over the top use which states it is for use on soybeans that contain a glyphosate tolerant gene, and not limited to crops containing the Roundup Ready gene, may be applied to GT27TM or LibertyLink® GT27TM inaccordance to the EPA approved label.

     

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Q&A

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  1. What is the difference between a Roundup Ready gene and a glyphosate tolerant gene?The Roundup Ready gene is a type of glyphosate tolerant gene. The gene in theGT27TM and LibertyLink® GT27TM soybean is a different gene that also provides tolerance to glyphosate.
  2. Is glyphosate safe for over the top (OTT) use on GT27TM or LibertyLink® GT27TM?GT27TM or LibertyLink® GT27TMsoybeans exhibit commercially acceptable tolerance to all glyphosate formulations tested to date.
  3. May glyphosate be tankmixed and applied with Liberty for use over LibertyLink GT27 soybeans?Yes, glyphosate products approved for use on LibertyLinkGT27 may be tankmixed with Liberty, unless doing so would be an off-label use, because LibertyLinkGT27 contains a gene that confers glufosinate tolerance as well as glyphosate tolerance. In fact, adding glyphosate to Liberty can improve control of difficult grasses and some broadleaves.
  4. How should these glyphosate products be used on GT27 and LibertyLink GT27 soybeans?Always follow all label directions and restrictions on all products including rates and timing. If you have questions, ask the company that registered that glyphosate product or US EPA.

 

Update on dicamba applicator training

The new labels for Engenia, XtendiMax, and FeXapan have many new precautions that applicators need to be aware of.  An additional requirement is that anyone applying these products must attend an annual dicamba or group 4 herbicide-specific training.  Details are still being worked out on this training for Ohio, but it will not be part of OSU Extension winter pesticide recertification meetings.  At this point, it appears that it will be conducted by Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont at meetings held specifically for this purpose, and also possibly through an online training module.  This is not likely to be in place until after the first of the year, and we will pass on information as we get it.  OSU, Purdue, and U of Illinois put together a fact sheet on stewardship of dicamba, which is available here.  This is not meant to be an all inclusive list of application requirements, but it does contain some additional suggestions on stewardship that are not part of labels.

Marestail still #1 in soybeans

Results of the 2016 Weed Science Society of America weed survey for broadleaf crops, fruits and vegetables are in.  Across all crops, Palmer amaranth was the most troublesome and difficult to control weed, and lambsquarters was most common.  In soybeans, however, marestail and waterhemp were the most difficult to control, and waterhemp was the most common.  All of these weeds except lambsquarters are difficult to manage in soybeans for a combination of reasons – complex biology, prolific seed production, extended periods of emergence, and a tendency to develop resistance to multiple herbicide sites of action.  So if you’re still struggling with marestail (aren’t we all), you’re not alone.  If you’re still struggling with lambsquarters in soybeans, we extend no sympathy here – take two residual herbicides and call us in the morning.

 

Bunch of odds and ends

Reminders about some recent videos we made, etc.  First, corn replanting is in full swing in areas due to the effect of previous cold and wet weather on stands.  It’s important to kill the first stand of corn to make room for the second.  If not removed, plants from the first stand essentially act as weeds in the second planting.  Research we conducted with Purdue in 2009-10 showed that yield of the second planting was maximized most consistently when it developed in the absence of plants leftover from the first stand.  The following video summarizes methods of killing the first stand.

We also made a follow up video on control of larger marestail with burndown herbicides.  In this one, we walked through our research plots a couple weeks after most of the burndown treatments were applied, and reviewed effectiveness of the herbicide combinations we listed in the first video (which can be found in May 5 blog post below).

And finally, in the category of “not everything goes the way it was planned”, we have a few photos from our spray day at OARDC Western Ag Research Station last Friday.  We planted all of our soybean plots last Wednesday, and needed to get the preemergence herbicides on as soon as possible to ensure they received a timely rain.  Well it was too windy to spray the next two days and then the station received two inches of rain late Thursday, turning the place into mud.  Knowing that there was more rain coming, we opted to go ahead and wade through the mud to get the plots sprayed.  Had to wait for water to drain on some of it.  Not ideal for sure but the use of backpacks and handheld booms allowed us to go where it would have been impossible for anything motorized to go.  Stuff happens.

There’s some big marestail out there

The warm winter and early spring resulted in some awesome weed growth in no-till fields, and larger than normal marestail for this time of the year. And the current spell of wet, windy weather is preventing field operations. This can create some significant challenges for burndown programs in fields not treated with herbicides last fall. Check out the video for some advice on modifying burndown programs to better handle large marestail.  As always, contact us if you have questions.

Marestail – it’s everywhere

The photos of marestail here were taken in front of my house, along the intersection of the driveway and front walkway.    I have to suspect, given the proximity of these plants to where I exit the car every day, it’s likely that the marestail seed traveled with me from the OARDC Western Ag Research Station of another crop field.   I have found marestail all over Columbus, though, and there is plenty along the Scioto River which is just to the west of me.  So there is the possibility of seed traveling with prevailing weeds up the hill from the river.  So far the marestail around the house have been resistant to glyphosate, and my solution has been hand weeding and glufosinate (this allowed me to learn also that a high rate of glufosinate will kill lawn grasses).  One would think that resistance to glyphosate indicates the the seed came from an agricultural field rather than a native area, parkland, etc.  Recent work by a graduate student here at OSU compared the frequency of glyphosate resistance in marestail populations from north central Ohio with those from southern Iowa, and also compared populations from agricultural versus non-agricultural sites.  All of the populations from Ohio agricultural sites exhibited high level resistance, along with 60% of the populations from non-agricultural sites.   While over 90% of the Iowa populations from agricultural sites were resistant to glyphosate, the number with low versus high levels of resistance was fairly even.  And while 45% of the Iowa populations from non-agricultural sites were resistant to glyphosate, this occurred only at the lowest level of resistance for the majority.  In the end there can be plenty of glyphosate use and selection for resistance in both agricultural and non-agricultural areas, depending upon how they are managed.  Here in Ohio, it’s likely that a new infestation of marestail will be highly resistant to glyphosate, regardless of the seed source.  I suppose that cleaning my clothes and shoes well after working in marestail-infested areas could have prevented these plants in my driveway.  But I might have also needed a fine-meshed net on the west side of the house to prevent the influx of windborne seed.  Just some of the reasons why marestail remains enemy number one in soybeans.

 

Misleading herbicide ads and the People’s Court

The world recently lost Judge Joseph Wapner, a man of integrity who brought evenhandedness and a gentle humor to the proceedings of The People’s Court.  Along with judicial wisdom, he could have  low tolerance for the many idiots who came through his court, and always found a way to bore right to the core issues.  He probably would have had low tolerance for the recent dealings we had with two agrichemical giants over an herbicide ad one of them apparently ran in parts of Illinois.  For the sake of anonymity, we can call these two giants, “large company S” and “large company D”.  Both companies sell very broad spectrum, multi-component preemergence corn herbicide premix products, and of course both “large company S” and “large company D” believe their products walk on water and are truly superior to all other preemergence corn products.  The ad in question, produced by “large company S”, showed combined yield results from a 2016 study conducted by OSU and Purdue that compared weed control and yield from various premergence corn herbicides.  As shown in the ad bar chart and wording, the product of “large company S” resulted in a “yield advantage” compared with use of the “large company D” product.  “Large company D” asked us to review the ad for accuracy.  Upon reviewing the data from the two individual OSU and Purdue studies, we found that there was no significant difference in yield between the two products that walk on water in either study.  Nonetheless, someone at “large company S” HQ decided to average yields between studies and create an ad that made it look as though there was higher yield for their product.   We do have to respect the ability of “large company S” to fess up when we confronted them with this.  Their response was essentially “yup you caught us.  We ignored the statistics and just floated it out there anyway figuring that no one would notice”.

 

 In the meantime, it was pointed out to us that while trying to occupy most of the high moral ground here, “large company D” was known to be cutting recommended rates of their product that walks on water in certain areas to be more cost competitive with the “large company S” product.  And in the end “large company S” essentially reminded us of the possibly also somewhat dubious approach of “large company D” in selling product and stated “the attorneys for large company D can contact our attorneys if they want to pursue this further”.  We believe in the legal world these are known as the “wait – but they did this” and “nananana poo poo – just try to get us” arguments.  Both very effective at times we’re sure.  However we can’t help thinking that in this case even Judge Wapner’s response might have been, “Bailiff, kick these people in the a** and get them out of my court”.  (In the interest of honesty, which is what this blog post is about, we should say we borrowed this last quote from a Doonesbury comic strip.  Always wanted to use this somewhere.)

 

We have been doing this for 25+ years, and have observed numerous instances where companies manipulated data somewhat or ignored statistics to create the story they want.  This manipulation can be the only reason why herbicide ads for a given product always show that product as either more effective or providing higher yield than the competitors’ products.  In all fairness to companies, it probably doesn’t make much sense to run an ad that shows the opposite.  In fact, we had this same discussion with “large company S” a couple of years ago, with regard to another of their ads.  The ad also showed a bar chart where their preemergence corn product that walks on water outyielded the competitors’ products in an OSU trial.  Checking our data, it was apparent that there was no significant yield difference, but you never would have known this from the ad, where the bar for their product was a different color and substantially taller than the other bars.  Because different colors of course do indicate that significant differences occurred regardless of what the statistics showed.  Which leads us to ask “large company S” (and everyone else really), if you’re going to ignore the statistics that in fact show whether real differences occurred, why even bother to have independent researchers such as OSU and Purdue conduct the study?  Why not just make up the results so that everyone knows your product is truly the best?

 

We really have better things to do than try to police ads where our data are misrepresented.  It’s not a very rewarding activity.  We don’t want to say it’s a mistake to ever trust the yield results shown in herbicide ads – no wait – let’s go with that – it’s a mistake to ever trust yield results shown in herbicide ads.  And hey – just a reminder – experimental design and statistical analysis procedures exist for a reason.  If we ignore them, then all we’re left with are “alternative facts”, right?

 

It’s a brutally competitive herbicide sales world out there.  Stay ethical my friends.  RIP Your Honor.