USDA Moves To Approve Agent Orange GMO Seeds

Published on truthout, by Mike Ludwig, Jan 8, 2014.

The US Department of Agriculture is leaning toward approving varieties of corn and soybean seeds that are genetically engineered to be resistant to several herbicides, including the controversial chemical known as 2,4-D.

Dow Chemical developed the genetically engineered seeds with the brand name Enlist to address the growing problem of “superweeds” that have become resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Roundup is widely used on genetically engineered crops, which are also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.  

Dow claims that Enlist seeds will give farmers an important tool to fight weeds, but pesticide critics and independent researchers say that 2,4-D is linked to health problems. Fighting resistant weeds with tougher chemicals, critics say, is not a sustainable solution to the challenges of modern agriculture.

Just before the start of the weekend January 3, 2014, the USDA released a draft environmental impact statement on the genetically engineered corn and soy seeds, which have been under a strict review since 2011 because of pressure from organic farmers and activists who are concerned about widespread use of 2,4-D. The USDA found that the GMO seeds do not pose a “plant pest risk,” and th

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides, is also reviewing the proposal to inject crops resistant to 2,4-D into the agricultural system. GMO crops such as the Enlist seeds are genetically engineered to resist pesticides marketed by the companies that develop them, allowing farmers to spay entire fields with patented herbicides that kill only weeds and non-GMO plants. In the coming months, the EPA will announce its decision in coordination the USDA.

Food safety activists and environmental activists call the GMO seeds “Agent Orange crops” because 2,4-D was a component of the notorious herbicide used by American forces during the Vietnam War that caused serious illnesses among veterans and the Vietnamese population. Industry proponents point out that Agent Orange’s other ingredient, a chemical known as 2,4,5-T, was contaminated with dioxin and made the herbicide dangerous to human health. Meanwhile, 2,4-D has continued to be used in the United States and across the world.

Pesticide critics, however, point to studies that have linked 2,4-D to health problems such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer.

“Any increase in the use of 2,4-D with Enlist corn and soybeans will hit rural communities especially hard, as numerous medical studies have linked 2,4-D and related herbicides to increased rates of cancer and Parkinson’s disease as well as low sperm counts in farmers and to birth anomalies in their children,” said Andrew Kimbrell, director of the Center for Food Safety.

Denmark, Sweden, Norway and parts of Canada have banned 2,4-D in light of such research, but the EPA considers the chemical to be relatively safe. In 2012, the EPA denied a petition from environmental groups to cancel the chemical’s legal registration … //

… (full text with hyper-links).


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