Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Coming to a Field Near You: 'Agent Orange Corn'?

Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams

Critics fear the USDA's assessment of 'Agent Orange' crops will increase the use of toxic pesticides. (Photo: jeffbalke/cc/flickr)Despite widespread opposition from food safety, environmental and watchdog groups, as well as health professionals and concerned consumers, the USDA has paved the way for the commercial use of genetically engineered crops dubbed "Agent Orange" corn and soybeans.

In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released Friday, the agency said that its "preferred" option for Dow AgroSciences' "Enlist" corn and soybean, genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, is to deregulate them.
2,4-D, the third most widely used herbicide in the U.S., is made by Dow Chemical, and was a component of Agent Orange. The herbicide has been linked to Parkinson's, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.

Critics say that green-lighting these two genetically engineered crops will expand the use of toxic herbicides at the expense of public and environmental health, while padding the coffers of he pesticide industry.

"'Agent Orange crops' are designed to survive a chemical assault with 2,4-D. They will increase the use of toxic pesticides in industrial agriculture while providing absolutely no benefit to consumers," said Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell.

Some see a cautionary tale from Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which led to an increased use of glyphosate and the creation of "super weeds."

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