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Voices Blast Dow Chemical's 'Agent Orange' Seed Warfare

Pending approval of the GE Seeds, Dow prepares to roll out seed-herbicide combination package, spelling 'catastrophe' for farms and farmers

Lauren McCauley

As the final public comment period wrapped up on Tuesday for the approval of Dow Agrosciences' new genetically engineered and herbicide-resistant seeds, hundreds of thousands of people are demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture halt the "chemical arms race" that is poisoning our people and planet.

Dubbed "Enlist," the corn and soybean seeds are resistant to the toxic herbicide, 2,4-D—a known neurotoxin that was part of the cocktail of chemicals used in Agent Orange spray.

According to food safety group Food & Water Watch, over 387,000 people responded to the USDA's draft Environmental Impact Statement. Individuals who submitted comments voiced their personal concerns with the seeds as they urged the agency to reject their approval.

"This poison chemical company has the ruthless, malicious, heartless audacity to make such a request to have their poison, 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange to be applied to their so-called GMO food crops," wrote Lori Nakamura-Higa, the neice of a Vietnam veteran that suffered from Agent Orange poisoning, from Kaneohe, Hawaii. "I [am] reminded daily of the loss of quality of life trying to persevere with this plaguing struggle."

"This chemical arms race with weeds means more pesticidal pollution, environmental damage, and higher production costs," said Gary Rost, of Falon Heights, Minn. "[A]pproving this crop would take us backwards, seriously endangering human health and the environment."

"You have a duty to protect the health and safety of the public. Dow's applications are clear dangers and represent a violation of public policy," wrote Ken Mason, Wilmette, Ill.

"Why in the world would we want to approve 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans when Roundup resistant corn and soybeans have failed to do anything except to increase the use of pesticides?" asked Jean Bixley, Cambridge, Minn. "Pesticides are not healthy for anyone, and the government should be looking at ways to reduce or eliminate their usage, not increase it."

"Big agriculture and chemical companies are not honest about the risks and someday we will all pay the price for their greed." —Kevin Peroni, Denver, Colo.

"For once, do what is best for the American people instead of what big corporations are paying you to do. This could be catastrophic to public health," said Rachel Wood, Hudsonville, Mich.

"We must stop poisoning our food with chemicals that are unsafe for our health and our environment," wrote Kevin Peroni, from Denver, Colo. "Big agriculture and chemical companies are not honest about the risks and someday we will all pay the price for their greed."

Though the public comment period has ended, the Center for Food Safety is sponsoring a petition calling on the White House to stop approval of the GE seeds.

As the USDA itself has conceded, approval of the GE seeds would lead to a "200 to 600 percent increase" in the agricultural use of 2,4-D by 2020. The chemical has been linked to Parkinson's, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.

"With all these risks, why are chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto formulating seeds to be resistant to this decades-old chemical with a terrible health track record?" asks Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet and co-founder of the The Small Planet Institute.

Answering her own question, Lappé explains how the introduction of herbicide-resistant seeds further boosts sales of those herbicides, and thus more profits. "The real motivation behind the introduction of those products is Monsanto’s and Dow’s bottom lines," she writes.

Earlier this week, Reuters published an in-depth piece on Dow's projected growth pending approval of these GE seeds. Dubbed their "most important release," according to Dan Kittle, Dow Agrosciences Vice President of Research and Design, the company anticipates they will double their roughly $7 billion in annual revenues over the next five to seven years.

The "key to Dow's rise in the agriculture seed and chemical kingdom," according to Reuters, is the joint packaging of their "new GMO seed and herbicide combination branded the 'Enlist Weed Control System.'"

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