Agent Orange Herbicide Ingredient Would be Widely Used
USDA seeks comments for Monsanto and Dow genetically engineered crops
Cornucopia, WI -- Over the holidays, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of a novel strain of genetically engineered corn, developed by Monsanto, purportedly being "drought tolerant."
Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular genetically engineered (GE) corn variety (and only 23 comments in favor), the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn variety freely into the environment and American food supply, without any governmental oversight or safety tracking.
"President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack just sent a clear message to the American public that they do not care about our concerns with genetically engineered food and their questionable safety, adverse environmental impacts, and detrimental effects on farmers, especially organic farmers," says Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst with The Cornucopia Institute.
"This is just the latest in a string of approvals of genetically engineered crops, and it is clear that despite campaign promises of change from Obama, he has not had the courage to stand strong against the powerful agribusiness and biotechnology lobbies," Kastel added.
In addition to its announcement approving Monsanto's newest GE corn variety, the USDA also opened a 60-day public comment period for two additional petitions -- one for Monsanto's GE soybean containing higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, that does not naturally occur in soybeans, and the other from Dow AgroSciences for corn that has been genetically engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D.
The public can comment on Dow's 2,4-D corn at:
While the USDA attempts to assure the public that 2,4-D is safe, scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of this herbicide, which was used as a key ingredient in "Agent Orange," used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War.
2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"The concern is that, just like Monsanto's genetically engineered corn that is resistant to RoundUp - (glyphosate) herbicide, the approval of a cultivar resistant to 2,4-D will cause an exponential increase in the use of this toxic agrichemical," Kastel stated.
Research by the EPA found that babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates.
The results also showed a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.
In its petition, Dow AgroSciences states that 2,4-D is increasingly important for chemical farmers because of the presence of weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, as a result of the widespread use of Monsanto's genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant crops.
When Monsanto introduced glyphosate, it was touted as a safer and less toxic alternative to herbicides like 2,4-D. Now, an emerging body of scientific literature is raising serious concerns about the safety of glyphosate as well.