Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Warnock Defeats Walker in Georgia, Giving Democrats 51-49 Senate Majority

"Tonight, the people—young, Black, Brown, and working people—expanded the Senate majority, neutralized the power of Joe Manchin, and defeated yet another fascist," the Sunrise Movement cheered.

Brett Wilkins ·


'About Damn Time': NY Jury Finds Trump Organization Guilty on All Counts of Tax Fraud

"Today's guilty verdict against the Trump Organization shows that we will hold individuals and organizations accountable when they violate our laws to line their pockets," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Brett Wilkins ·


Oxfam Rebukes EU Over Delayed Deal on Global Minimum Corporate Tax

"This is a loss to ordinary people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and a win to the ultra-profitable corporations," said the group's tax expert for the bloc.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Biodiversity Summit Called 'Make-or-Break Moment' for Wildlife

"The deluded dreams of billionaires aside, there is no Planet B," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. "We must fix the world we have."

Julia Conley ·


Congressional Progressives, Climate Activists Rally Against Manchin's 'Dirty Deal'

"As if spending $847 billion on the military-industrial complex wasn't bad enough," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, "now they want to add sacrificing frontline communities for polluter profits to the package?"

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo