The USDA has made a crazy and horrific decision allowing “Agent Orange” crops to be planted.
Last Friday, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released by the US Department of Agriculture recommended that full deregulation is the “preferred alternative” for Dow AgroSciences’ corn and soybean traits resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D–products known as the Enlist Weed Control System.
What is 2,4-D? According to scientists, it’s an effective herbicide and plant growth regulator widely and safely used for decades in household weed killers, such as Scotts TurfBuilder, and also by farmers. To GMO opponents, it’s “Agent Orange”.
“Agent Orange, a defoliant used in the Vietnam War, was made with two herbicides: 2,4-D (the one that the new corn tolerates), and 2,4,5-T. The second component 2,4,5-T was unknowingly contaminated with a dioxin, something that was only later recognized as a significant human safety issue. Yes, 2,4-D was part of Agent Orange, but it wasn’t what made Agent Orange a danger back in the 1960s.”
(agricultural scientist – Steve Savage – Biofortified)
Although the chemical (2,4-D) is not the specific component of “Agent Orange” that caused all the problems back in the 1960’s, it still does have its own issues and problems associated with this use.
On her blog, Marion Nestle, New York University food scientist and organics promoter appropriately linked to independent government studies endorsing the safety of 2,4-D. She then however noted speaking for ‘Earth Justice’, one of the country’s most anti-science groups: “The potent and toxic 2,4-D has been linked to many human health problems.” Nestle continued in her quote from the anti-GMO group. “It also is likely to harm non-genetically engineered crops in neighboring fields, threaten endangered species, and ultimately lead to the development of weeds that are resistant to it, leading to even more problems.”
After years of independent review, Canadian regulatory authorities approved the traits in October, opening the way for cultivation for the first time this year.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) endorsed the safety of the traits years ago after extensive reviews, but the final approval process slowed to a crawl in the face of activist pressures. Citing “public concerns” about the potential increased volume of herbicides and their movement onto non-target crops, APHIS announced in May that it would require a more stringent environmental review of Enlist crops waiting to be approved for the market. That’s now completed. The draft EIS will be published in the Federal Register this week and open for public comment for 45 days.
Even as the evidence for the safety and sustainability benefits of these new GM traits mounts, anti-GMO activists escalate the rhetoric.
“If finalized, this decision would launch American agriculture into a new era of vastly increased dependence on more toxic pesticides,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the anti-GMO Center for Food Safety, which popularized the demonizing term “Agent Orange Corn” to stigmatize the chemical. “The Obama Administration must overturn this dangerous and misguided proposal.”
Pollan, Nestle and groups like the Center for Food Safety and Earth Justice harp on concerns that the use of herbicides can result in the evolution of so-called superweeds, requiring even more spraying. That has begun to happen in some farm areas in cases involving the overuse of glyphosate (Roundup Ready), where resistance has indeed emerged. But herbicide resistant weeds have been a problem long before GMO crops were introduced.
New corn and soy plants produced by Dow Chemical Company are engineered to be sprayed with the 2,4-D herbicide. Exposure to the chemical 2,4-D is linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid & reproductive problems, Parkinson’s disease and neurological damage.
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO seed line, which incorporates herbicide resistant traits, has led to a sharp reduction in the overall toxicity content of chemicals sprayed because glyphosate is so much less toxic and environmentally risky than the chemicals it replaced. The same would happen with Dow’s 2,4-D corn or soybeans.
“LESS TOXIC?” and terms like “Acceptable Levels”? What does this really mean for the end consumer?
The EPA has yet to approve crops that are tolerant to both Roundup and 2,4-D, known as “Enlist Duo.” Recently, well-know celebrity doctor and nutritional expert, Dr. Oz, had the brilliant idea of using Obama’s petition site to get his attention in this last ditch attempt effort to protect the population. In an unprecedented move, he announced on TV that he is starting this petition and urged Americans to sign asking Obama to block this approval.
We should be outraged at this decision made by the USDA and should block these crops. Furthermore, this petition appropriately puts the President in the center of the controversy, as it is his FDA, USDA and EPA agencies that are allowing this very dangerous precedent.
To-date, there are 48,487 signatures already and when it reaches 100,000, Obama is forced to replay.
You can help support this effort: (SEE the PETITION Here)
Safe Eating Begins with Informed Eating…
Jeffrey Smith – Institute of Responsible Technology