Our comment to the USDA

I am writing today to urge you not to approve Dow’s genetically engineered corn (DAS-40278-9) out of concerns that it will dramatically increase the use of 2,4-D (Docket No. APHIS–2010–0103), a major component of the chemical Agent Orange, specifically, and increase total herbicide usage more broadly.

Exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to major health problems that include cancer (particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), lowered sperm counts, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease. A growing body of evidence from laboratory studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity and immunosuppression. In addition, 2,4-D, even in the absence of widespread use in commercial agriculture, is already the seventh-largest source of dioxins in the US, according to the EPA. I am concerned about the impacts of a dramatic increase in 2,4-D usage on the amount of dioxins in the environment and in our food.

In addition, farmers who purchase this GE corn will be required to spray their fields with both Roundup and 2,4-D – the combined impact of which has not been tested and remains unknown. Although this is seen as a solution to Roundup-resistant weeds, my concern is that this represents yet another escalation in an herbicide arms race that will only result in larger numbers of ever-more-toxic chemicals being dumped on our food supply, leading to higher production costs, increased sickness, higher rates of birth defects, and greater harm to the environment.

The USDA should keep in mind the dangers that 2,4-D and the dioxins it contains pose to both ecosystems and individuals and deny approval for Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant GE corn.



More Information:

In two days, the USDA will decide whether to allow Dow to introduce corn resistant to one half of the chemical mixture Agent Orange into our food supply. Widescale use of Roundup has led to a new generation of resistant weeds, and the next step in the pesticide arms race is 2,4-D — a chemical linked to cancer, Parkinson’s and reproductive problems. 

Farmers that sign up to use genetically-engineered 2,4-D-resistant corn will be required to spray down their fields with both 2,4-D and Roundup, double-dosing our food, our soil and our waterways with the toxins. Some experts estimate this will increase the use of 2,4-D 50-fold, even though the EPA says the chemical is already our seventh-largest source of dioxins — nasty, highly toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate as they move up the food chain and cause cancer, developmental damage, and birth defects.

We can stop this. The use of 2,4-D is banned entirely in parts of Canada and Europe, and right now the US Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments on whether or not to approve a new 2,4-D- resistant corn. If approved, it could lead to widespread industrial use of the toxic herbicide.

Add your name to our letter to the USDA urging them to deny approval for Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant GMO corn.

This is part of a growing problem, an escalating herbicide war going on across America’s heartland. From 1996 to 2008, herbicide usage increased by 383 million pounds. Nearly half of this took place between 2007 and 2008 after the introduction of another strain of herbicide-resistant plant pushed by Dow. Like Roundup before it, 2,4-D is only a temporary solution that will require more and more tons of toxins and more and more potent chemicals leaching into our food supply.

2,4-D is nasty stuff and has been linked to a number of health problems, such as tripling the rates of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Nebraska farmworkers exposed to it and causing reproductive problems — birth defects and high rates of miscarriage — in both mice and men exposed to it in the lab and field.

Tell the USDA – we don’t want Dow’s toxic pesticide.


Citations and further reading:

Overview of the toxic effects of 2,4-D“, Sierra Club, January 2005.
A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the Herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid (2, 4-D) in Eastern Nebraska“, Epidemiology, 1990.
Reregistration Eligibility Decision for 2,4-D“, EPA, June 2005
chemicalWATCH Factsheet“, Beyond Pesticides, July 2004
GM Crops Increase Herbicide Use in the United States“, Institute of Science in Society, January 2010
Study Links Weed Killer to Reproductive Problems“, Los Angeles Times, September 2002
Agent Orange in Your Backyard: The Harmful Pesticide 2,4-D“, The Atlantic, February 2012
‘Agent Orange’ Corn: The next stage in the chemical arms race“, The Center for Food Safety, February 2012