Letters Flood USDA Over Pending Approval of 'Agent Orange Corn'


More than 140 environmental and health advocacy groups along with 35 medical and public health professionals have submitted letters to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the agency to reject an application for the approval of herbicide and herbicide resistant crops submitted by Dow AgroSciences.

Using the brand name “Enlist,” Dow’s genetically modified corn is designed to be resistant to 2,4-D, the toxic chemical used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, causing serious environmental and human health issues. But, the multinational chemical company insists the product is safe despite years of research that link exposure to 2,4-D to major health issues including reproductive and neurological disorders and certain types of cancer.

In a letter posted on FoodDemocracyNow’s webiste, the groups state that “commercial approval of Dow’s corn will trigger a large increase in 2,4-D use, but USDA has not conducted a meaningful review of the consequent harm to native ecosystems, crop injury from 2,4-D drifting onto neighboring fields, or the evolution of weeds resistant to 2,4-D. “

Interest in using 2,4-D on agricultural crops only recently emerged as a number of weeds and pests have shown serious resistance to glyphosate, the popular pesticide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup for use with genetically modified crops. And concerns that similar issues with resistant weeds and bugs will appear after excessive use of 2,4-D aren’t easing any minds, claims the group: “At a time when farmers, citizens and government have worked hard to limit our use of, and exposure to, toxic chemicals like 2,4-D and dioxin, approving this crop would take us dramatically backwards, endangering human health and the environment. If USDA wants to adhere to a true scientific process, it should stop ignoring the science that doesn’t suit the interests of the biotechnology industry. “

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. Twitter @jillettinger | www.jillettinger.com.