'Agent Orange Corn': Biotech Companies Are Waging a Chemical Arms Race on Our Food Supply
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Agent Orange, the defoliant used as a weapon of war in Vietnam, is a mixture of equal parts 2,4-D and another related herbicide, 2,4,5-T. The aircrews charged with spraying Agent Orange used a sardonic motto – “Only you can prevent forests,” a shortening of the famous forest service warning to the general public – “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
But of course, Agent Orange was — and is — no joke. The Vietnamese government estimates that 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects, as a result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange in that country. The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that even all these years later there are still a million people in the country disabled due to our use of Agent Orange.
The biotech industry says that referring to crops that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D as “Agent Orange crops” isn’t fair. They acknowledge that 2,4-D was one of Agent Orange’s primary ingredients. But where is the evidence, they ask, that 2,4-D, by itself, is dangerous?
There is in fact considerable evidence linking the weedkiller 2,4-D, by itself, to cancer, lowered sperm counts, birth defects, neurological damage and other serious health harms. Dozens of studies in humans have reported an association between exposure to 2,4-D and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells that can be fatal.
Convinced by such research, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and parts of Canada have banned 2,4-D. But instead of protecting the American people from this poison, the USDA is acting as a salesman for Dow. If we don’t stop this, we’ll soon be spraying massive quantities of 2,4-D on our fields and farms. That’s why it’s so important that you make your voice heard during this crucial 45 day window.
Monsanto, Dow, and the other corporations that stand to profit enormously from the use of these crops say that they are necessary to combat the epidemic of superweeds. But these superweeds have come into being precisely because of the overuse of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on crops that have been genetically engineered to be Roundup-resistant.
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO technology was designed to enable farmers to weed their fields by spraying them with Roundup, killing the weeds but not the genetically engineered Roundup Ready plants. But what has happened, as many scientists warned it would, is that weeds have increasingly become resistant to Roundup, which has led to farmers using more and more of Monsanto’s weedkiller. This skyrocketing increase in herbicide use has been a disaster to biological diversity in our fields, for instance nearly wiping out milkweed, thus causing a severe decline in Monarch butterfly populations.
Meanwhile, the number of weeds resistant to Roundup has grown to epidemic levels. Weeds that can no longer be controlled by Roundup now infest roughly half of farmers’ fields. The biotech industry says the solution is their next generation of genetically engineered crops that are resistant to 2,4-D and other herbicides. But many scientists are warning that we’ll only see the same sad thing again. The effect will be to generate still more intractable weeds resistant to multiple herbicides. And then we’ll need even more toxic pesticides to address the problem.
It’s a chemical arms race. Fortunately, you can do something about it.
Here’s how to make your voice heard:
2) LET THEM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL.
3) Don’t buy meat from factory farms. The primary use of genetically engineered corn and soy are as livestock feed in factory farms.