New York Finally Approves Monsanto's Acetochlor Herbicides

New York farmers will be able to use Monsanto acetochlor weed control products in 2013.

Published on: Feb 25, 2013

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences acetochlor herbicide brands are now registered for use in New York – possibly the last state in the country to finally approve them. Now, growers in New York can join the legions of crop producers across the U.S. who've been using them to fight weeds, says Tyler Hackstadt, Monsanto's product specialist.

Acetochlor-containing products, including Monsanto's Harness Xtra, Harness Xtra 5.6l, Degree Xtra, TripleFLEX and Warrant – received federal labels for field corn, seed corn, silage corn, sweet corn and soybeans as early as 1997. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation approved state registration for them this winter, after numerous denials.

New York Finally Approves Monsantos Acetochlor Herbicides
New York Finally Approves Monsanto's Acetochlor Herbicides

In brief, the Monsanto brands will replace current alachlor-containing products Bullet, Lariat, and Microtech in the 2013 use season, adds Hackstadt. The more powerful active ingredient will enhance weed control, provide longer residual control plus have improved handling over alachlor brands.

Why the approval 'drag'?
Even after approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York's DEC denied acetochlor approval, citing potential leaching risks of unspecified amounts in certain coarse soils. But since 1997, EPA's toxicological and environmental profiles have improved significantly and EPA dropped acetochlor's "restricted use" designation, says Russell Hahn, Cornell University weed specialist.

~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~"That change was based on a favorable cancer reclassification plus the fact that groundwater monitoring in states where it has been used has shown it's less likely to leach than some other herbicides." And, he adds, "Surface water monitoring has shown amounts not likely to pose risk to aquatic plants and animals."

The favorable cancer reclassification resulted in soybeans being added to the label along with additional rotational crops.  As a result, the Acetochlor Registration Partnership, the regulatory partnership between Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, re-applied for New York registration of acetochlor products in August 2011.

But registration was denied in July and again in September 2012. But the ARP persisted.

"Robin Bellinder, my counterpart for vegetable and fruit weed control, and I wrote a letter in support of this registration in October," notes Hahn. "ARP tells us our letter had an impact."

The bottom line, according to Hahn, is that a bunch of acetochlor products have been registered in New York. But he believes the registration will be for restricted use in New York, and won't be allowed on Long Island.

While Cornell agricultural scientists have some influence, the state registration review process may be arguably influenced by more hard-line environmentalists. DEC has 60 days after receiving pesticide registration applications to respond that the application is complete. Then the agency has another 180 days to make a decision, according to its timeline. And as noted above, the agency likes to do its own environmental studies rather than rely on U.S. EPA data.

The approval process for Section 18 emergency exemptions begins with a 30-day wait for determining the completeness of the application. Then the agency requires the filing at least 105 days before the decision is needed, again according to its review timeline. So much for meeting emergency need.