Stop “Agent Orange” Corn
Here at Green America, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our next issue of the Green American, which features a set of articles about the human health and environmental concerns around genetically modified organism (GMO) in our food supply. Among the numerous concerns we discuss in the article is Dow Chemical’s current application to plant a new type of GMO corn, one that is resistant to herbicide 2, 4-D, a major component of Dow and Monsanto’s infamous and highly toxic Agent Orange.
According to the Center For Food Safety,
Exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to major health problems that include cancer (especially 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. Further, industry’s own tests show that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemical compounds that bioaccumulate, so even a minute amount can accumulate as it goes up the food chain, causing dangerous levels of exposure. Dioxins in Agent Orange have been linked to many diseases, including birth defects in children of exposed parents; according to EPA, 2,4-D is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the U.S.
Currently, about 88% of corn grown in the US if genetically modified, virtually all of it being Monstano’s Round-Up Ready variety. Round-Up Ready corn is resistant to Monsanto’s Round-Up herbicide, meaning that farmers can spray the herbicide on their fields to kill weeds without fear of harming their crop of corn. However, despite early claims that GMO crops would reduce pesticide use, studies indicate that pesticide use has actually increased by millions of pound per acre.
Weed scientists around the country are widely in agreement that this over-use of Round-up has given rise to a problem that is taking a toll on farmers and the environment: so-called “superweeds” which are resistant to glysophate, the active ingredient in Round-Up. Iowa State University weed scientsit Mike Owen calls the phenomenon “Darwinian evolution in fast-forward,” and articles like this one in the New York Times document farmers whose machinery is broken by large, Round-Up resistant weeds, or who have to abandon whole fields because these weeds have taken over.
And how is the biotech industry reacting to the emergence of Round-up resistant weeds? As Dr. Doug Durian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists says, “With more of the same, only worse.”
More of the same, only worse, is Dow’s “Agent Orange” corn–developed as an answer to Round-Up resistant weeds. This new GMO variety is resistant to multiple herbicides, including Round-up, 2-4, D and dicamba. This means that farmers will be able to spray these additional herbicides freely, with a tremendous toll on health on the environment. And while the combination of pesticide resistance in this new GMO corn may slow down the weeds’ ability to adapt, there is no reason to believe that weeds won’t eventually develop resistance to these pesticides.
“Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ corn will trigger a large increase in 2,4-D use—and our exposure to this toxic herbicide—yet USDA has not assessed how much, nor analyzed the serious harm to human health, the environment, or neighboring farms,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “This novel corn will foster 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/biotechnology firms.”
If approved, millions of acres of “Agent Orange” corn could be planted next year. The USDA has extended its public comment period to April 27–tell the USDA to listen to the science and reject “Agent Orange” corn. Submit a comment through the Center for Food Safety’s web site and spread the word!
Act now! Tell the USDA to reject Agent Orange corn.
And while you’re at it, here are some other GMO actions we’re working on right now:
-Send a message to the USDA to stop the approval of non-browning GMO apples.
-Tell retailers that you don’t want GMO sweet corn, expected to make it to market in frozen and canned corn next fall.
-Tell the FDA to require labeling of GMO food, because you have a right to know what you’re eating!
If you’re not already a member of Green America, sign up now so you’ll receive our next Green America, chock-full of information about GMOs and how you can avoid them in your kitchen.