The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) iscurrently deciding whether or not to approve an application by Dow Chemical for its controversial genetically engineered (GE) corn variety that is resistant to the highly toxic herbicide 2,4-D, one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange.
This GE corn will foster rapid evolution of resistant weeds that require more toxic pesticides to kill, followed by more resistance and more pesticides–a chemical arms race in which the only winners are pesticide (aka biotechnology) firms.
The advent of Dow's 2,4-D resistant corn is a clear indication that first-generation GE, herbicide-resistant crops–Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR) varieties–are rapidly failing. RR crops, which comprise 84 percent of world biotech plantings, have triggered massive use of glyphosate (Roundup's active ingredient) and an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds. These resistant "superweeds" are regarded as one of the major challenges facing American agriculture.
2,4-D corn is only the first of many new herbicide-resistance crops being developed by the biotechnology industry to usher in a new era of increased chemical use that represents a verysignificant opportunity for Dow, Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer, and Syngenta. These "biotechnology" companies are actually pesticide firms that have acquired a large portion of the world's seed supply, and they use biotechnology to create synergies between their seed and pesticide divisions. In short, biotechnology = pesticide + seeds. One indication of this is that nearly two-thirds of GE crops pending approval by our USDA (13 of 20) are herbicide-resistant. 2,4-D drift and runoff also pose serious risk for environmental harm. Because it is such a potent plant-killer, 2,4-D can harm animals by killing the plants they depend on for habitat and food. TheU.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service have found that 2,4-D is likely having adverse impacts on several endangered species, even now. 2,4-D is currently used to control weeds primarily in cereal grains, golf courses and lawns.
If approved, millions of acres of Agent Orange corn could be planted as early as next year, raising concern for its adverse health impacts. 2,4-D was one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemical compounds, which are responsible for a host of serious medical conditions–from diabetes to cancer to birth defects–in Vietnam veterans as well as Vietnamese and their children. Industry's own tests show that 2,4-D is still contaminated with dioxins.