2, 4D Resistance Crops One Step Closer to Market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving toward deregulation of Dow AgroSciences new 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans. These new products are intended to offer farmers the ability to use additional chemicals, due in part to the weed resistance caused by use of other chemicals, including glyphosate which is heavily used on Roundup Resistant crops.

Those of us who have been working for transparency and labeling for genetically altered foods have seen this coming for a few years. It became obvious to those in the biotech industry and to GMO activists alike, that weed resistance was becoming a problem. Their solution is to double down and add more chemicals and more altered genes. These new crops are tolerant to multiple herbicides including 2,4-D and glyphosate.

2, 4-D is a chemical that is commonly used in parks, golf courses, residential lawns and in agriculture including wheat and rice farming. It is the third most commonly used weed killer in the United States. So, what is the problem?

Agent Orange was a controversial defoliant used during the Vietnam War to clear jungle areas. American soldiers and Vietnamese people reportedly suffered an array of birth defects, illnesses and cancer as a result of their exposure to this chemical. Agent Orange was made with a blend of 2, 4-D and 2,4,5-T, the latter of which was blamed for the health issues suffered as a result of Agent Orange exposure. Some experts say it was the 2,4,5-T which contained deadly dioxins (a result of manufacturing process) and it’s use has since been discontinued. Dioxins can and do develop during the manufacturing process of 2,4D as well, which continues to be used regularly both commercially and for residential use. It is assumed that dioxins no longer exist in the chemical due to claims of  improved manufacturing processes. Most countries do routinely test for the presence of dioxins.  Dioxins have continued to be found in 2,4D when tested, and they are known to be one of the most deadly chemical compounds known to man. In July of 2013, ABC News Australia released a story indicating that elevated levels of dioxins were found in the widely used herbicides. Australia imports much of it’s 2,4-D from China, a major supplier for the chemical worldwide.

EMSL Analytical, Inc., a private testing company who operates over 30 labs nationwide in the US and Canada released a report on dioxins found in 2,4-D and can be seen here.

Oregon State University published a fact sheet regarding 2,4-D in 2009. In it, they indicate the EPA could not establish a link between 2,4D and cancer due to insufficient data because 2,4D is often mixed with multiple other chemicals during its use. They offer tips on avoiding exposure and symptoms related to accidental exposure.

    The EPA does not conduct it’s own safety studies. Instead, they review the safety findings of the company selling the chemical to decide if the risk is an acceptable risk. Often, the studies use the chemical in its purest form and under ideal circumstances. When these new genetically modified seeds hit the market, the current 46 million pounds of 2,4-D is expected to increase by 50 times according to some estimates. As the manufacturing and use of 2,4-D  increases, can we feel confident the chemical companies have our interests in mind? It is also important to remember that the USDA only reviews the industry research with regard to the seed itself. Neither the EPA nor the USDA is tasked with evaluating human health in the consumption of GMO foods. The FDA, who would be most likely to be tasked with evaluation of human safety information, has stood by their decision to view these foods as significantly equivalent to natural foods and therefore not subject to human safety evaluations.

    We find ourselves fighting yet another battle with the introduction of more genetically modified seeds, another increase in the use of toxic chemicals, while our commercial agriculture industry moves further away from a sustainable model. These methods put profits over people, including consumers, and increases the risks farm workers and agricultural area residents face as these chemicals are sprayed into our communities. If the biotech industry, Farm Bureau, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have their way, they will continue to produce our food through genetic modification and resistance to chemicals, without any labels to give consumers a choice. In short, you won’t know you are eating foods which have been genetically modified and sprayed with glyphosate and 2,4-D because the food manufacturers won’t have to tell you.

You can sign onto this petition started by the Pesticide Action Network to stop the USDA from deregulating Dow’s new 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans.

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