Corn field

Consumer advocacy group, The Cornucopia Institute, is calling for concerned citizens to sign a petition in hopes of blocking Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of 2,4-D— the toxic herbicide found in Agent Orange—that is waiting on approval from the USDA for its genetically engineered strain of corn resistant to the controversial chemical.

As genetically modified seeds—mainly corn, soy, canola and cotton—are proving to develop resistance to glyphosate (the common companion pesticide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup), competing GMO brands such as Dow are seeking to capitalize on the opportunity to steal market share from Monsanto, the largest seed manufacturer in the world.

2,4-D is a chlorinated phenoxy compound and was an integral ingredient in Agent Orange, which was used extensively during the Vietnam War to destroy thick forests and crop lands. Exposure to Agent Orange was linked with serious side effects including eye and skin irritation, infertility, birth defects, organ damage, neurological disorders and certain types of cancer.

The 2,4-D corn crops would be resistant to the herbicide, but the plant may still absorb chemical residues into its structure, according to a statement from The Cornucopia Institute, “and then transfer those chemicals, or their related metabolites, to livestock and humans consuming corn or milk, meat and eggs produced from the GE crop.”

The Cornucopia Institute’s petition asks President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to consider the public’s opposition to the release of GMOs as risks to both humans and the environment after long-term exposure to the modified seeds and companion pesticides are not clearly understood.

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Image: Jan Tik