The EU’s Food Safety Authority approved Bayer’s new XtendFlex soybeans for food and animal-feed use. Bayer’s latest GMO is resistant to three herbicides: dicamba, glufosinate-ammonium, and glyphosate (aka Round-Up). That gives farmers more options for weed control.
The United States and Canada have already approved the new soybean traits for use and cultivation. Bayer expects rapid adoption and commercialization by farmers in both countries.
Note EU’s approval for the GMO soybean is only for food and feed, not cultivation. That means EU farmers aren’t allowed to grow it. When you think about it, the approval is a government-sanctioned advantage to foreign farmers; EU farmers are at a disadvantage. It seems so backwards.
As expected anti-GMO voices in the EU slammed the soybean with the same old, tired arguments. “It’ll increase herbicide use!” Well, no, it won’t. It could actually reduce overall herbicide use. Farmers can apply a herbicide combination that would be more effective, reducing the need for additional applications.
Farmers like to use more than one herbicide to combat weeds developing a resistance. In short, that can happen when one herbicide is applied to a field. Any weeds remaining have the ability to live despite the herbicide. Those weeds then give those genes to their progeny, increasing the number of weeds resistant to the herbicide. By using multiple herbicides in one application makes it more likely that weeds resistant to another herbicide will be killed by the other.
It’s an interesting development because so many people are under the impression that all European countries have “banned” GMO crops. They haven’t. They just don’t necessarily allow their farmers to take advantage of biotechnology and its benefits.