Why Do We Want to Spray More Agent Orange on Our Crops? Are We at War with Ourselves (and Our Children)?
February 7, 2012
Remember Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant used in the Vietnam War? Are you ready for Agent Orange Ready seeds for US agriculture? Action Alert!
One of the two active ingredients that made up Agent Orange is 2,4-D. Despite what Agent Orange did to Vietnam and the Vietnamese people, not to mention a generation of American soldiers, 2,4-D is currently the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the third most commonly used in North America. But apparently we aren’t using this poison enough. By using seeds engineered to withstand it, much more can be applied to our soil and crops.
One of the biggest reasons for genetic engineering of crops is that the harsh poisons used to kill weeds also tend to kill the crops themselves. Scientists genetically alter the crops’ DNA so they will resist damage from the herbicides. Most of the attention to date has been on the creation of Roundup Ready seeds—that is, seeds and crops that can withstand the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto. According to USDA figures, 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton planted in the US contain the Roundup-resistant gene.
Not at all surprisingly, weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to Roundup, creating “superweeds” which are “galloping through the Midwest.” So Dow AgroScience created a strain of corn that has been genetically engineered to withstand a different class of herbicides—those containing 2,4-D, a known carcinogen.
Dow is now seeking to freely use this 2,4-D-resistant corn. GE modification to create resistance means they will be free to use ever-increasing amounts of the herbicide, with no limits whatsoever.
These new herbicide-resistant crops will be planted alongside conventional and organic crops. This increases the potential for cross-contamination, and for the spillover of toxic herbicides into the groundwater and neighboring farms.
The manufacturer of this seed will of course reject our use of the term
“Agent Orange Ready” seed. But don’t be deceived. 2,4-D was a principal ingredient of Agent Orange—and it is the toxic pesticide that these new seeds are designed to survive.
Three million people had health effects and 150,000 were born with birth defects as result of Agent Orange’s use during the Vietnam War. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a shocking list of the diseases related to Agent Orange exposure, including leukemia, diabetes, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and numerous different cancers.
It is true that the other half of the Agent Orange recipe was an herbicide whose manufacturing process made it easily susceptible to contamination with an incredibly toxic chemical called TCDD (the most toxic dioxin). But this doesn’t let 2,4-D off the hook, not by any means.
The advocacy group Beyond Pesticides discusses the terrible health and environmental effects of 2,4-D at length on their website. There are clear links between 2,4-D and cancer, as well as potential endocrine disruption, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney liver damage, and birth and development defects. This herbicide is far worse than Roundup.
In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the EPA to ban the pesticide. According to the NRDC, there are safer and more effective pesticides, but 2,4-D is often more affordable.
Even scarier, Monsanto and Dow now seem to be in collusion with one another. In its petition, Dow states that the 2,4-D trait in the GE seeds will be stacked with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait so that the seeds are resistant to multiple herbicide tolerances. Soon we’ll be eating food with a whole cocktail of different herbicide traits cooked into the seed—all so they can be sprayed with chemicals that are more toxic than ever before! The real solution here is to stop using GE seeds altogether.
Unfortunately, our nation is increasingly dependent on mono-cultured GE crops, rather than promoting diversity in crops and organic food and vegetables—which is better for not only for our health but for the environment as well.
GE crops are not tolerated in the European Union. BASF, a German biotech company, decided to leave the EU and go to the US where they receive safe harbor from the USDA. Last year, Hungary destroyed roughly 1000 acres of illegal GE corn, and said it plans to make distributing GMO seeds a felony.
The USDA’s public comment period for giving a green light to this GE corn ends on February 27. Even if we don’t move USDA, the more comments received, the firmer foundation is laid for Congressional or legal action. USDA has already written an environmental assessment—and not surprisingly it’s a whitewash.
Please contact USDA immediately, and protest what is going on in the strongest possible terms. Point out the serious health problems linked to 2,4-D, the danger of cross-pollination and contamination of surrounding farmland by the herbicides, as well as the environmental unsustainability of creating new GE seeds to withstand increasingly poisonous herbicides. We must not accept Agent Orange Ready seed. Please take action today!
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