Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Coming to a Field Near You: 'Agent Orange Corn'?

'2,4-D corn and soybeans just keep us on the same old pesticide treadmill; it’s a terrible idea.'

Andrea Germanos

Despite widespread opposition from food safety, environmental and watchdog groups, as well as health professionals and concerned consumers, the USDA has paved the way for the commercial use of genetically engineered crops dubbed "Agent Orange" corn and soybeans.

In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released Friday, the agency said that its "preferred" option for Dow AgroSciences' "Enlist" corn and soybean, genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, is to deregulate them.

2,4-D, the third most widely used herbicide in the U.S., is made by Dow Chemical, and was a component of Agent Orange. The herbicide has been linked to Parkinson's, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.

Critics say that green-lighting these two genetically engineered crops will expand the use of toxic herbicides at the expense of public and environmental health, while padding the coffers of he pesticide industry.

"'Agent Orange crops' are designed to survive a chemical assault with 2,4-D. They will increase the use of toxic pesticides in industrial agriculture while providing absolutely no benefit to consumers," said Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell.

Some see a cautionary tale from Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which led to an increased use of glyphosate and the creation of "super weeds."

"USDA is propelling American agriculture further down a path of increased dependence on older, more toxic pesticides."

—Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch
"When Dow Chemical and Monsanto first brought out GE crops, they assured us their new, expensive seeds would clean up our environment and reduce pesticide use. That didn’t happen," said Iowa corn and soybean farmer George Naylor. "Today weeds are resistant to Roundup and many farmers are using older, more deadly pesticides to kill them. 2,4-D corn and soybeans just keep us on the same old pesticide treadmill; it’s a terrible idea."

This "pesticide treadmill" means profits for the industry.

"GE herbicide-resistant seeds are clearly the growth engine powering the pesticide industry," stated Pesticide Action Network senior scientist, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman. "These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to drive up herbicide sales."

Critics also charge that the likely approval means the USDA is abdicating its duty to the American public.

"By continuing to rubber-stamp its approval of Dow and Monsanto’s latest products, USDA has abandoned its responsibility to safeguard American farmers’ crops, health and livelihoods," Ishii-Eiteman added.

The likely approval of the crops, said Food & Water Watch assistant director Patty Lovera, means the "USDA is propelling American agriculture further down a path of increased dependence on older, more toxic pesticides."

__________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Progressive Delia Ramirez Defeats Billionaire PAC Money to Win Illinois Primary

"Billionaires and their super PACs are spending millions to defeat progressive candidates," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Ramirez. "They have the money, but we've got the people."

Jake Johnson ·


'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo