Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corn growing in Iowa.  Watchdog groups say the USDA's decision to OK Dow's new genetically engineered corn and soybeans will be a continuation of the herbicide treadmill.  (Photo: Don Graham)

USDA's Greenlighting of 'Agent Orange' Crops Sparks Condemnation

Following widespread outcry, Dow's new genetically engineered corn and soybeans get approval.

Andrea Germanos

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's decision this week to approve two new genetically engineered crops is being denounced by watchdog groups as a false solution to herbicide-resistant weeds and a move that threatens human and environment safety alike.

The crops are Dow AgroSciences' Enlist corn and soybeans, engineered to be resistant to its Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D, a component of the notorious Agent Orange. 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson's, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption. Dow states that the new system will address the problem of weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's widely-used Roundup.

Food and environmental safety groups, however, say that it speaks to the failure of the genetically engineered crops strategy that fosters herbicide expansion—profitable for the chemical companies—and ignores the paradigm shifted needed in the industrial agriculture system.

"With this approval comes millions of more pounds of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land; it’s an unacceptable outcome,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. His group noted that the USDA analysis acknowledges that the crops could lead to as much as a 7-fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D by 2020, and this, Kimbrell stated, "will only spur the evolution of yet more herbicide-resistant weeds.”

Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Vía Orgánica, issued a similar warning, stating, “The USDA’s approval of these crops is proof that today’s destructive, industrial agriculture model, based on a system of genetically engineered mono-crops, is a failure.”

“Farmers have been sold the lie that they can increase yields and prevent crop failure from weeds by buying Monsanto’s and Dow’s GMO seeds and dousing them in toxic poisons, also manufactured and sold by Monsanto and Dow," Cummins continued. "But just as scientists predicted, these 'miracle' crops are evolving to resist the poisons thrown on them, causing the USDA and the EPA to approve increasingly toxic poisons to fight increasingly resistant weeds. Where does the escalation end?"

“We need a new direction for our agricultural system, not increased reliance on chemicals.” Kimbrell added.

The Center for Food Safety and the Pesicide Action Network added that their groups would pursue legal options to stop the crops' threats to communities.

The Enlist Duo herbicide meant to be used in combination with the new crops is still waiting for approval from the EPA.  Despite widespread outcry, Dow said in a press statement that the approval "is expected in the near future."


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.

As Other States Try to Copy Texas, SCOTUS Asked to Find Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

The request from healthcare providers comes after a Florida Republican filed a copycat bill and advocacy groups called on Congress to affirm the right to abortion nationwide.

Jessica Corbett ·


As Bids to Slash Pentagon Budget Fail, US Military Spending Slammed as 'Height of Absurdity'

"Spending $780 billion on weapons and war while our communities starve, while the climate crisis worsens, while a pandemic that has killed millions and affected countless more rages on, is a national shame."

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is Big': House Passes Amendment to Cut US Complicity in Saudi Bombing of Yemen

The vote, said Rep. Ro Khanna, "sent a clear message to the Saudis: end the bombing in Yemen and lift the blockade."

Andrea Germanos ·


Praised for 'Braving the Smears,' Tlaib Votes Against $1 Billion in Military Aid to Israel

One rights group thanked Tlaib "for speaking truth to power" while being attacked "for simply insisting that Palestinians are human beings who deserve safety, security, and freedom from Israeli apartheid."

Brett Wilkins ·


'A Choice Point for Humanity': Women Demand Visionary Shift at UN Climate Talks

"This is the time to unite together to build the healthy and just future we know is possible for each other and the Earth."

Julia Conley ·

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