Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Herbicide being applied to corn. (Photo: Soil Science/cc/flickr)

Half a Million People to EPA: Stop 'Largest Expansion of a Known Toxic Herbicide'

As the EPA appears poised to OK new herbicide duo containing 2,4-D, watchdogs sound alarm.

Andrea Germanos

Over half a million people including scientists, doctors and food safety advocates have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to approve a new herbicide mix proposed by Dow because they say it would open the floodgates to a vast increase in toxic spraying that puts public health and the environmental at risk.

At question is Dow AgroSciences' Enlist Duo herbicide, a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate—the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup—made to be used on 2,4-D ready corn and soybean crops. Dow states that its proprietary blend "will control and help prevent further development of herbicide-resistant weeds" on the genetically engineered crops.

Food safety, environmental and health watchdogs, however, say that it's an unsustainable and harmful approach to dealing with the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, or "superweeds," that exist because of the systemic issues underlying the "genetically engineered crop strategy" that keeps farmers on a "pesticide treadmill."

"American agriculture stands at a crossroads," stated Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety. "Approval of these crops and pesticides would set American agriculture down a dangerous path that will only exacerbate the problems farmers are already facing."

The groups and health professionals are sounding particular alarm over 2,4-D, which has been linked to numerous health problems including increased risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson's and immune system problems.

Further, "In its Environmental Risk Assessment for 2,4-D, the EPA found ‘information gaps,’ ‘key uncertainties’ and ‘insufficient information’ in the analysis of the impacts of 2,4-D on nontarget organisms," stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "The agency even admitted concerns for direct and indirect effects on birds, mammals, insects (like honeybees) and plants."

"As for its human health evaluation," Hauter continued, "the EPA based all of its safety determinations on a study that was conducted by Dow AgroSciences."

In a letter sent Monday to the EPA, 35 doctors and researchers also underscore human health dangers posed by 2,4-D, and add:

Also worrisome is the fact that the manufacturer did not conduct any toxicity tests for simultaneous exposure to the combination of 2,4 - D and glyphosate , which could pose a much higher human and environmental toxicity risk than either herbicide alone . EPA acknowledges that, “there could be additional toxicological effects (synergistic or additive) because of the presence of two herbic ides.” Yet, the Agency disregarded these data gaps and both human and environmental toxicity concerns in its proposal to register the Enlist Duo™ herbicide.

If the EPA green-lights the herbicide duo as well as the 2,4-D ready corn and soy, the groups say the amount of 2,4-D being used across the nation will exponentially increase. They point to a USDA assessment that found that 2,4-D use on crops could increase as much as seven-fold.

"If EPA approves Enlist Duo for use on genetically engineered corn and soy, it would result in the largest expansion of a known toxic herbicide use in more than three decades," stated Mary Ellen Kustin, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group, an organization that has also sought to highlight the risks of the herbicide.

The public comment period for the herbicide mix ended Monday at midnight, but the groups are hoping that the EPA at least postpones their decision until the agency does a better, science-based assessment.

"We urge the EPA to do the right thing and deny the approval of the new mixtures of 2,4-D and glyphosate in order to protect human and environmental health," the doctors' letter concludes.


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·


US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos ·


New Filing Reveals Sinema Pads Campaign Coffers With More Pharma and Finance Funds

"This is what someone who's bought and paid for looks like."

Brett Wilkins ·


'We're Not Stopping': Weeklong D.C. Climate Protests End With 650+ Arrests, Vows to Fight On

"There is no other planet to escape to. Water is life... They need to listen to the youth. They need to hear us speak our cries."

Brett Wilkins ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo